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No Way Out PPV Preview, and 
Other Weekend NewsBites
February 21, 2003

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


As is our custom here at OnlineOnslaught.com, we'll spend the first part of this Friday column previewing the major television event that we will ALL be watching this weekend...

So to that end, let me suggest that stopping David West from once again posting 47 points is not necessarily the key to the Dayton Flyers' (19-4, #25 in the AP Poll) success in Saturday's rematch (2 p.m. eastern on ESPN) against A-10 rivals, the Xavier Musketeers (19-4, #14).  My reasons are two:  first, a more evenly officiated game should prevent West from being quite so dominant a scorer on Saturday.  And two, our post defenders admitted that they simply were not playing their best defense two weeks ago on West; if they step it up and play better one-on-one D, we can still make defending the perimeter, and here I'm specifically terrified of Romain Sato, a priority, without resorting to gimmicks to contain West.
Also, provided we're guarding Sato well, I'd be willing to let West have 47 points if we can stop him from garnishing that with another 18 rebound performance.  The Flyers' execrable board work in Wednesday's game against Richmond has me concerned about that aspect of the game.  Very concerned.

Oh...  wait.  You don't care about Saturday afternoon's titanic struggle between two top 25 teams, each poised to do damage in the NCAA tournament?  You want me to talk about a Wrestling pay-per-view?
Alright, I guess I can do that, too.  It all ties together as part of 2003's first Big Ass Four Day Rick Scaia Weekend of Drunken Revelry.  It started last night with promising local band, Flight Risk, heading down south to rock the pants off of Cincinnati (with a big assist from the Bang Tale, of course).  It continues with Dayton/Xavier on Saturday afternoon and Flight Risk's Dayton homecoming at Elbo's on Saturday night.  And then, just when I'm positive I can't have any more fun, we've got No Way Out on Sunday...

And honestly, this is about as intriguing an "off-month" pay-per-view that I can recall.  You've got an undeniable big time atmosphere, courtesy of the returns of Steve Austin, the Rock, and Hulk Hogan.  You've got the promise of some quality in-ring work featuring the usual suspects from SmackDown.  You've got, in essence, all the pieces for a kick-ass PPV show.

The eight-match card has been so well constructed that even matches that you know are going to be kind of weak are still, somehow, really interesting.  If you'd told me 6 weeks ago that I'd be sitting here, anxiously waiting to see wrestling performances from Eric Bischoff and the Big Show, I'd have politely inquired about the  recreational pharmaceuticals to which you were expecting me to become addicted.

And yet, here I am, once again putting my Smart Fan Secret Club membership at risk by professing just such an interest, even though I'm sure I should know better.

Let's take a look at the as-scheduled eight match PPV card:


It's the match that, in retrospect, should have headlined WrestleMania 18.  On Sunday, my guess is that last March's miscalculation will not be repeated, and Hogan/Rock II will go on last.

Hogan, in what he's professing is his final run in WWE (and in the wrestling business as a whole), will once again be a huge fan favorite in front of a rabid Canadian crowd.  And The Rock, in full heel mode for the first time since 1999, will be EXPECTING the boos and cat calls this time.  What this one lacks in terms of credible wrestling, it more than makes up for in terms of drama and crowd heat.

The reason for this rematch of last year's Mania is simple:  Hogan was brought back to SmackDown! by Stephanie McMahon, only to be ridiculed by Vince McMahon for being a dinosaur from the past.  Hogan challenged Vince to a fight, but Vince, instead, placed a phone call to Hollywood and convinced the Rock to come back and take a shot at Hogan.  Rock briefly tried to convince us that he was coming back for The People and not for Vince, but it became apparent quick quickly that he had no interest in the fans, other than to smugly mock them whenever the opportunity arose.

Playing the arrogant Hollywood movie star, the Rock has spent the last few weeks disrespecting Hogan via satellite.  Finally, the two went face-to-face last night on SmackDown!, and are poised to do battle once again on Sunday's PPV.

Prediction:  you learn it in Smarkdom 101, and you apply it in situations like this.  Hulk Hogan does not like to have "unavenged" losses on his record.  If he puts you over, he likes to get the favor back.  In this case, that means I'll take Hogan to win here, settling the Lifetime Series between him and the Rock at one win apiece.  In the process, Vince McMahon will somehow get involved, but his interference will backfire, all of which should lead up to feeling like he's gotta take matters into his own hands in a match against Hogan at WM19.


Austin has had a tumultuous last nine months.  Upset with the direction of his character, he walked out of WWE last June.  Troubles on the home front quickly reared their heads, and despite a pair of attempted reconciliations, Austin is now going through divorce proceedings.  And with his old company looking for a spark, Austin has now agreed to come back to work.

In storylines, Eric Bischoff pursued Austin as the crown jewel in his attempt to revitalize RAW at the behest of Mr. McMahon.  When it seemed like Austin would not take Bischoff's offer, Vince fired Bischoff.  Then, Jim Ross made a last ditch pitch to Austin, and Austin agreed to come back to the RAW brand.  Vince gave Bischoff his job as RAW General Manager back... but only with the caveat that he'd have to face Austin in a wrestling match.

The untold backstage story is lots more interesting, as Austin is not exactly a big Bischoff fan.  Bischoff released Austin (while Austin was injured, no less) from WCW in 1995, telling him that a balding pretty-boy in plain black trunks would never make money for a wrestling company.  Though business is business, and Austin is smart enough to know the sorts of things you gotta do to make money, I'm sure some small part of him will take a bit of pleasure in taking some aggression out on Bischoff.

Prediction:  obviously, Austin wins.  If I booked it, it'd take all of 10 seconds: Bischoff hits the Karate Kid pose, kick, wham, stunner, massive beer-fueled celebration (maybe with bonus stunners for Bischoff and some for Morley if he decides to stick his nose in).  But I'm sure they'll feel compelled to stretch it out a bit; Bischoff already laid the foundation, saying he can name any stipulation he wants, which I'm sure translates into "Austin will actually have to wrestle against Chief Morley more than he will against Bischoff."  Still, no matter what obstacles Bischoff puts in place, Austin gets the W.


Those top two matches will not be racking up the asterisks in recaps done on Monday...  but this one could end up on a star rating fan's short list when the end of the year rolls around.

On the heel side, Team Angle has got the current #1 most all-around talented guy in the business in Captain Kurt, as well as two incredibly promising rookies (both of whom are progressing quickly in terms of in-ring ability, even if their personalities are lagging behind).  On the babyface side, Chris Benoit is a phenom, capable of having good matches with just about anybody (witness: A-Train last week on SD!), while Edge has spent the last year kicking ass in both singles and tag match and Brock Lesnar has become a huge fan favorite with his impressive power arsenal.

This match is an off-shoot of Angle's lingering issue with Benoit and his burgeoning one with Lesnar.  Flanked by his two protégés, Angle has perpetrated 3-on-1 attacks against both, and also 3-on-2 attacks when Benoit and Edge teamed up against Team Angle.  The babyfaces decided to close ranks, and for the past two weeks, 3-on-3 brawls have been the norm.

Note: Edge's level of participation in this match may be limited, but we'll talk more about that in the newsbites section.

Prediction: Angle has owned Benoit in a pair of recent one-on-one matches, while Benjamin and Haas have both gotten singles wins over Benoit and Edge.   It seems to me that the wise more here would be to put the babyfaces over.  Lesnar, who is going to WM19 to face Angle for the WWE Title, will score the pinfall for his team, building momentum in the process.

TRIPLE H vs. SCOTT STEINER (World Title Match)

This is a re-match from last month's Royal Rumble.  And rather than focus on the ringwork that earned Steiner the nickname of DUD-Zilla (at least, in the eyes of this fan, who just so happens to be the fan with the keyboard!), let's just gloss over that and move on to the story... because the story they told was actually a fairly good one.

Last month, HHH tried just about everything in his arsenal, but could not find a way to sustain an advantage and beat Steiner.  So he decided to find a cheap way out of the match.  He tried to get counted out and DQ'ed, and finally succeeded when he brought a sledge hammer into the match.  He lost, but he kept his title.  The desperation move worked at the Rumble, but now, HHH is forced into a rematch.

Surrounding himself with his new tentatively-titled "Evolution" group, HHH has spent the last month orchestrating 3- and 4-on-1 attacks on Steiner, often ending with Steiner lying in a pool of his own blood.  But on Sunday at the PPV, HHH is going to have to deal with Steiner by himself.  And maybe with some help from Ric Flair.  But mostly by himself.  I'm sure they'll reprise the desperation tactics angle from the Rumble to some degree.   I just hope they don't reprise the lethargic and one-dimensional ringwork along with it.

Prediction:  by foul means, Triple H will retain the belt.  I expect a busy, almost over-booked climax to this match, since HHH will probably need Evolution to be out running interference and helping him win.  Extrapolating from there, I'd expect Booker T (who would otherwise be absent from the card) is a likely guy to make an appearance to even the odds a bit and lay more groundwork for a WM19 feud against HHH.  We might even see an appearance from the "not quite right in the head" post-electrocution Goldust (maybe he wanders in with unclear motivation, distracting Booker from his business, allowing Evolution to steal the win for HHH?).  My point: you run enough dogs and ponies out there, and I think you can do a very entertaining win for HHH, regardless of the quality of the ringwork.


Big Show made his first TV appearance in about a month last night on SD!.... and maybe it's true what they say about absence making the heart grow fonder.  Because in Show's absence, Paul Heyman has done a really good job of playing foil to the Undertaker, all in the name of tricking us into thinking something good could come out of Show and Taker being handed 10 or so minutes of PPV time.

Show was the guy who tossed Taker off the stage over 4 months ago, leading to a lengthy lay-off for Taker.  When Taker returned at the Royal Rumble, Show must have known he was on the top of Taker's list, because he disappeared, and did not answer any of Taker's challenges.  Heyman has busted out singing telegrams, Brother Love, and even Kanyon to try to dissuade Undertaker from pursuing revenge against Show.  But it didn't work, and the match is finally on.

Prediction:  if they keep it short and as brisk as possible with a few extra-curriculars, I think the quality of the storytelling will keep crowd interest high.  It seems like this should be the big blow-off win for the Undertaker, and who am I to argue with conventional wisdom?


Originally, this was to be Jericho vs. Test in a feud that was started after Jericho accidentally whacked Stacy Keibler in the face with a chair.  Five days ago, it was switched with Jericho vs. Hardy on the flimsy premise that Hardy (while teaming with Shawn Michaels) ended his losing streak by pinning Jericho on RAW, enraging Jericho in the process.

On one hand, it should be a nominally better match.  On the other, it would have been nice to have a chance to ogle Stacy...  we'll call it a push.

Prediction:  Jericho should get the win, likely with an assist from Christian.  Although the option does exist for Michaels to make an appearance to neutralize Christian and help Hardy steal another win, I think there are better ways to build up to Michaels vs. Jericho at WM19, and they start with a Jericho win here.


RVD and Kane's makeshift tag team has jelled over the last month; even when booked to face each other, the two walked away from that match stronger partners than ever before.  The winning ways eventually earned them this tag title shot.

Regal and Storm have taken advantage of the beneficence of Chief Morley to repel their challengers, most notably the Dudley Boyz, and build some momentum.  However, that momentum may have been stunted a bit on Monday's RAW, when RVD pinned Storm in a one-on-one match.

You've got solid workers on the heel side.  And facing them, you've got RVD's flashy, fan-friendly offense and a talented big man in Kane.  Not much sizzle here storyline-wise, but there's absolutely no reason to doubt that this'll be an inoffensive little match, either.

Prediction:  Regal and Storm need to retain.  RVD and Kane have more options as singles, and plus, the current suspended-Dudleys storyline seems like it should pay-off with them FINALLY getting the tag titles in a WM19 blow-off match against Regal/Storm.

BILLY KIDMAN vs. MATT HARDY (Cruiserweight Title Match)

The story here:  Mattitude Follower Shannon Moore was unable to beat Kidman for the Cruiserweight Title, so the Guru of Mattitude, Hardy himself, decided to step into the ring with Kidman to show Moore how it is done.  He promptly lost to Kidman in a non-title match.

So, vowing to drop 10 pounds so that he could qualify as a Cruiserweight, Matt Hardy is now trying to take Kidman's precious CW Title as punishment for his impertinence.  At first, Hardy's losing streak continued, as he was dehydrated, depleted, and unable to compete at his highest level.  But last night on SD!, he was back in form, and scored the pinfall win in a tag match with Moore against Kidman and Rey Mysterio.

Prediction:  this'll likely be a second really good match from the SD! crew, and I anticipate Matt will get the title.  I think Hardy vs. Rey would be a really good direction to go with the CW division as they build towards WM.

Like I said, the as-announced eight match card is a really well put-together one.  A good mix of promising in-ring matches and top name stars/drama should provide a genuine Big Show atmosphere on Sunday.

Check it out on PPV, or come on back to OO at some point around 11 p.m. (eastern) for my immediate post-show recap!

And now, to close things out, some weekend newsbites:

  • Edge has been diagnosed with a neck condition that will require surgery.  He'll be operated on by the same doctor who did surgeries on Steve Austin, Lita, Rhyno, Chris Benoit, and Scotty 2 Hotty, and could miss up to a year.
    At present, I've heard that they absolutely plan to have Edge participate in the six man tag match on Sunday's PPV, and that he should be able to contribute at pretty close to his normal level.  The way it was laid out to me was that this is a situation not unlike Benoit's back in 2001, when he continued wrestling (including a PPV title match) for about a month after being diagnosed: in other words, as long as Edge doesn't do anything crazy, he can't really worsen his condition by working a last PPV match before getting written out.
    Already, there is a lot of speculation about whether this will result in changes in plans to call up or bring back to either the RAW or SD! roster.  I know some people are talking about changing things around so that Rhyno goes to SD! (instead of to a spot on RAW, possibly with the Evolution faction), but that's probably premature.  Honestly, as long as Edge makes it through Sunday, it's not like he's got a standing feud or long-term plans; talk of having to shuffle the roster so that somebody can "have Edge's spot" is kind of silly.  His absence will thin out the upper-mid-card babyface pool, but there isn't really a "spot" that needs immediate filling.
    Tough break for Edge.  Here's hoping for as speedy and complete a recovery as possible...
  • The rating for Monday's RAW (delayed by the holiday, sorry) was a 3.8, which was down just one-tenth of a point from the previous week.  I was actually surprised that RAW did as well as it did, as there were some extremely highly rated shows on other channels Monday (including "Joe Millionaire's" record-setting audience and specials about Michael Jackson again drawing bafflingly big numbers).
    I'll be interested to see if RAW can bang a big number next week, as they'll have the benefit of a post-PPV Return of Austin show, while the other networks have seemingly shot their Sweeps Month wads.
  • The overnight rating for last night's SD! was a 4.7.  That's a very strong showing, up a half-point from last week.  Of course, it doesn't really matter until we find out if the gains hold up when we see the final ratings, but for now, it's good news...
  • Is everybody else as intrigued by The Obtuse Experiment as I am?  If you weren't pay attention to yesterday's Obtuse Angle, Jeb Lund is going to do columns every day next week... as a man who can only bring himself to write about wrestling three times a week, I am morbidly curious to see how Jeb handles things.  
    I warned him that a slow, steady descent into madness is one possibility, and secretly, I think that it's the most entertaining one of all.  Perhaps I could demand a regular Thursday edition of the Obtuse Angle, a gross of wrestling haikus, a bonus edition of Crashing the Boards, and a fully-researched Tribute to Mr. Perfect of no less than 20,000 words, all on my desk no later than next Friday.  Then we could all sit back and watch Jeb's head explode.
    Ah, I'm not that big of a dick.  But I do want to see how the Obtuse Experiment plays out.  And so do you...
  • Lastly for today:  if you're plopping yer ass down in front of the TV on Sunday night looking for "Heat," you'll have to tune in to TNN.  For one week only, Heat is pre-empted on MTV for some special, and TNN is broadcasting the show.  You have been warned.
    See you Sunday with PPV results, and then again on Monday with PPV fall-out, RAW preview, and other news...



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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