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PPV Fall-Out, RAW, Heyman, and, Well,
Not Much Else, Really...
February 24, 2003

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


Thanks to everyone who tried to do the Nice Thing by e-mailing me condolences for the Dayton Flyers' nationally televised loss to the Xavier Musketeers... but unless you've perfected time travel (for non-Brazilians) and can go back in time and prevent the Flyers from fumbling that last rebound with 24 seconds to play, thus preventing X from scoring the go-ahead basket, then just keep it to yourself, Potsie.  I'm officially trying to erase those painful few moments from my memory, and don't need people reminding me that we're now 0 for our last 5 against Xavier.  Filthy Jesuits.

On the upside, there is an above average chance that we'll get to play X again, and on our home court, in the A-10 tourney.  Expect all due propaganda if that match-up comes up again in 3 weeks.  Until then, I'll try to quit annoying you, and just exude "quiet confidence" as we have to deal with very tough opponents in Rhode Island and St. Bonaventure... 

But on to the wrestling:

  • Last night's No Way Out PPV was exactly the kind of show I'd hoped for and expected: good work on the undercard, a serious forward push towards WM19, and an undeniably special atmosphere as some big stars returned.
    Were there areas where I thought improvements could have been made?  Of course, but that's the nature of the online wrestling fan: to think he knows best.  So yeah, the six-man (oops, five-man) tag match should have gotten several more minutes.  Lord knows, Big Show and his three dozen consecutive head-butts and interminable bear-hug had a few to spare.  I might even have asked Steve Austin to please bear with me and work one spot lower on the card, so that maybe we could put Taker/Show in between Austin and Rock/Hogan, giving the fans a chance to rest so that they are just as loud and fired up for the main event as they were for Austin's kick-ass squash of Bischoff.
    But in the end, it's like I said last night (in the OO Immediate Post-Show PPV Recap): these are not serious complaints, nor are my suggestions ones that would have resulted in serious improvements.  No Way Out was already a good show; these things would only have made it incrementally better.
    By the way, check out that aforementioned recap if you want to know the winners and losers from last night... from here on out, I'll be discussing fall-out from the show.
    Such as:  first and foremost, Edge not working as scheduled in the six-man tag match was a clear indicator of just how serious his neck injury really is.  Though there was not any one precise moment when Edge suffered a single dramatic injury (it is more the accumulation of years of damage, which Edge just started noticing in the past 3 weeks after discussing symptoms with Chris Benoit and Rhyno), and the hope last week was that he'd be able to work the PPV match before getting surgery.
    That did not happen, and instead, Edge basically did the angle that will write him off of TV for the next year.  He will have surgery to fuse two vertebrae on March 10, and has set the goal for himself of returning in time for WrestleMania 20.  It's a really tough break for Edge, and again here's hoping for as complete and as speedy a recovery as is humanly possible for him.
    Also:  the crooked referee in the main event was a Montreal native named Sylvain Grenier, who was trained by the Rock's dad, Rocky Johnson, and has been in the WWE developmental program for several months.  I know I got suspicious when a rookie referee who looked big enough to be a wrestler himself and whose first TV appearance came earlier in the night on Heat suddenly showed up in the main event... but I also know that I am in the minority of wrestling fans when I notice such things, and that this was actually a well-constructed, non-obvious way of screwing Hogan out of a win.
    Grenier is a relatively new addition to the developmental roster, and I've neither seen him work nor heard a concrete scouting report on how well he's progressing in the ring.  He's certainly been handed a sweet spot out of nowhere: the heel lackey for the Rock and Vince McMahon.  Here's hoping he can live up to it.
    Albert's run-in to beat down Undertaker after Taker's surprisingly OK win over Big Show was not what I expected...  comments from Nathan Jones seemed to hint his first WWE target would be Taker, but now, this seems to set up A-Train as Taker's next feud.  Maybe it makes sense if you consider that they'll want to feed A-Train to Taker as his annual WrestleMania Sacrifice before sending in Jones?
    Possibilities abound for Matt Hardy in the Cruiserweight Division: on one hand, you could do an obvious move and do a Matt/Rey Mysterio feud (the are probably the most over heel and face, respectively, who could compete in the CW division).  On the other, you could draw out the hinted-at storyline in which Matt will now have to deal with making weight to hold on to the title.  Rather than have it be a constant struggle in which Matt's always dehydrated and exhausted, or having Hardy just drop the title in his first defense, here's an idea we had last night:  Matt decides that he'll only drop down to make weight once per month (meeting the bare minimum "title defense every 30 days" rule).  In the meantime, he can maybe pursue tag feuds with Moore or the occasional heavyweight issue, all of which only enhances his heel heat, since he's "killing" the CW division.  But in reality, the CW division heats up, because all the other guys now have to bust ass and have 1 or 2 outstanding matches per week so that they can earn that one, single monthly title shot.  Matt's non-CW agenda gets over, the CW division (minus the title itself) gets over, everybody wins!  I say you stretch it out with Matt being able to hold the title for five or six months until Steph gets frustrated with him and finally just books his one monthly defense to be like a Battle Royal or a Gauntlet Match where all the pent-up anger of the other Cruisers comes out as they team up on him.  You could even do a thing where Shannon Moore splits off from Matt because he wants the CW Title, too.  Tons of possibilities, like I said.
    Steve Austin was the hands-down Star of the Night.  His act was fresh after the eight-month lay-off, he looked like he was having fun, and you cannot discount the fact that Bischoff played the perfect patsy, either.  People wanted to see Bischoff get his ass kicked just as much as they wanted to see Austin back kicking ass, so it all worked out perfectly.  Of note: no beer in Austin's post-match celebration... that will continue to be the case for at least the nine remaining months of Austin's probation, as he actually got heat with the San Antonio authorities when he used non-alcoholic beer in a post-RAW appearance in LA a few weeks ago.  Of greater interest: Austin said in a WWE.com interview that his current contract is up sooner -- seven months -- than said probation, and he's not sure what the future holds beyond that.
    Hulk Hogan -- who in the past few weeks has been telling people that he expects to retire for good after this WM, due to a really bad back condition -- was also quoted on WWE.com as saying that he felt OK after his first match back since August, and that despite his earlier concerns, he thinks he'll be able to play his planned role at WM19.
    Again, for the straight-up results from last night, check out the OO PPV Recap.
  • Tonight on RAW, the Stone Cold Show should take center stage.  Last night, he was the star of the PPV without saying a word.  Tonight, they oughta follow up on that by giving Austin a mic and letting him spew some venom.
    Alas, this probably also means the return of "What?", but I'm sure I won't get sick of that again for, oh, two or three weeks.
    Also, the expectation is that Austin will now head to a WM19 match against the Rock, and that'll take some doing, starting with tonight's show.  A lot of people are concerned that they shouldn't do that match because Austin is RAW and Rock is SD!, but c'mon: Rock is, at this point, a one- or two-match-per-year special attraction and is probably past the point of having to be locked in to one roster.  And also: Rock is affiliated with Vince McMahon, the man with all the Stroke, who can make any damn thing he wants happen; so Vince goes back to being pissed at Austin, and BAM, Vince uses his buddy The Rock to take care of some business.  It ain't rocket science.
    Long-term outlook tangent:  after "special attractions" like Rock and Shawn Michaels shoot their loads at WM19, I am really looking forward to the Fed doing an Austin/Jericho feud, and doing it the right way.  Seeds are being sown even now, with Jericho promising to help Bischoff with Austin and what not... but first, he's got Michaels, and Austin's probably got the Rock (barring miraculous developments on the Goldberg front, anyway).  But eventually.  Eventually.
    Back to tonight, you can have Austin reprise some of his ass-whipping on Bischoff for the free TV crowd tonight, or maybe bring out Chief Morley to get him a little mudhole stompin'.  Maybe a brief face-to-face with Vince to set up that dynamic.  Nothing too fancy or involved; you gotta dole out the Stone Cold in small doses, I think... no 12-minute RAW main event matches for Austin just yet, anyway.
    Also tonight:  HHH is still the champ following a watchable match against Scott Steiner last night on PPV.  In the case of HHH, his next step seems clear:  he was pinned by Booker T in a tag match last week, and Booker's probably not had enough revenge for what HHH's Evolution faction did to his buddy Goldust, in any case.  HHH vs. Booker T should be a WM19 match, and it kicks into high gear tonight.
    It's not quite so clear where you go with Steiner, now.  As a babyface, he's been ineffective in two PPV matches (though in other TV appearances, fans haven't been so quick to turn on him).  A heel turn might seem appealing, in that light, but who do you use to turn him heel?  Kane and Rob Van Dam are probably the guys strong enough as fan favorites to do the trick, but they now seem to be locked in to their own issue, in which one of them (pleasebeKane, pleasebeKane) goes heel en route to a WM19 showdown.  Having Steiner turn heel in this scenario, not only would he have to do it against a weaker babyface, but he'd also be doing it with the risk of getting lost in the shuffle of this other heel turn of either RVD or Kane.
    Of course, we'll get a better idea on where RVD/Kane is going tonight, too...  also, I fully expect that the money match for the RAW tag division is the Dudleys vs. Storm/Regal, so somehow, the "suspended" Duds need to get back in the good graces of Bischoff so that they can earn a shot.  Either that, or bring back the Conquistadors again...
    Other issues: I'm now guessing the women's division should head to a three-way match at WM19; Trish should be back tonight or next week (she's not really hurt, just selling the beat-down from a month ago while letting the Jazz/Victoria dynamic develop in her absence) to get things moving in that direction...  there is still an expectation that a brain damaged post-electrocution Goldust will be showing up soon; I have no idea if this is good or bad, but I merely hope that the creative team shows some good judgment and does not turn him into this year's WM World Title Match Ruining "Lucy the Puppydog"...  full speed ahead on Shawn Michaels vs. Jericho, too, as alluded to above...  on the other hand, there's probably not a whole more than wheel-spinning to be done for guys without key WM19 programs (like Rodney Mack, Hurricane, the Tough Enough trio of Nowinski/Snow/Maven, Tommy Dreamer, et al).
    Check out RAW tonight, or come on back to OO tomorrow for a full report.
  • A big shake-up backstage this weekend, as Paul Heyman was bounced from his duties as the lead man of the SmackDown! creative team.  In a move that maybe sort of sounds like a promotion, his new role is as a Creative Advisor to both RAW and SD!
    Of course, the last guy who sort of took on an informal "advisor" role to both brands was named Vince Russo, and look how long that lasted.  So who the hell knows?  I don't know what of the rumors to really believe here, other than to say if this really was a power play, it was not from the performer's end of the spectrum, but rather from the production end.  I've not talked to anybody who said the guys in front of the cameras had any problems with Heyman's direction/vision, at least.
    Bruce "Brother Love" Pritchard and Dave "Emerson College" Lagana are now the de facto top dogs in terms of SD!'s creative direction.  Pritchard knows his stuff, and Lagana was sort of mentored by Heyman over the past year, so hopefully this isn't such a huge deal, folks...  but knowing you like I do (and hey, I've been right there with you for most of the "SD Roolz! RAW Droolz!" propaganda), you'll still be very put off by this news.
  • That's the big stuff for today...  I'm back on Wednesday with Spoilers (provided you folks can help me out, anyway!) 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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