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Piper, Sable, Lesnar, and Other
Weekend Newsbites
April 4, 2003

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


Not a whole lot fresh to talk about today... just some SD! stuff that I couldn't do on Wednesday because it would have been classified as "spoiler" talk, and a few updates on existing stories.  Maybe I'll have to pad with an OOpinionated rant or something.

Or maybe I'll just come in short.  Read on and find out:

  • Last night's SmackDown! was a deviation from what we've become accustomed to on Thursdays:  a good, fun show with highlights that did NOT include the actual wrestling matches.
    Instead, SD! used a formula more traditionally employed by RAW, and used promos/interviews to generate the most notable portions of the show.
    Leading the charge was the mid-show return of Rena "Sable" Mero.  Straight out of the Hell Freezes Over file, Sable's return has about zero appeal in terms of in-ring pay-off, but should still be highly marketable... let's face it: a high percentage of wrestling fans enjoy improbably top-heavy babes and the tease of the fabled Hot Lesbian Action.  Even though I have to admit that my own first thought (and I feel like such a heel for saying this) was that Sable seems more likely to end up featured in MILF Hunter magazine than in Playboy, this time 'round.
    For whatever it's worth, the Meros have announced on their website/to their fanclub/whatever that this is a "long-term" deal for Sable.  So it's not like they just wanted to bring Sable in, do the feud with Torrie, and then be done with her.  I just wonder what that long-term role will be: by virtue of nudity, Torrie is ensconced as SD! top (only?) babyface diva, and the heel side's already got both Dawn Marie and Nidia... so it's either try to match popularity with Torrie (not gonna happen), or oversaturate the heel side.  We'll have to see how it goes...
    The other big news item from last night is that Hulk Hogan has basically been sent home by Vince McMahon.  In an attempt to put Hogan out of sight, and thus, out of mind, McMahon announced he is going to pay Hogan to sit at home, in an attempt to force Hulkamania to die a slow, painful, and anonymous death.
    The plan here is to keep Hogan to a limited schedule so that he can preserve his body long enough to do his farewell feud and match at WrestleMania XX at MSG.  I'm in no position to say for sure, but I'd actually guess Hogan would show up in some capacity within a few months, do a quick program, then disappear again until next January.  I just can't see him staying completely off the radar for 9 months.
    And while that stuff is all well and good, the thing that I personally was most heartened by was when Stephanie McMahon announced that Kurt Angle's injuries would only keep him out of action for two months.  Sounds like (a) Kurt has opted for the alternative surgical procedure and that (b) Kurt and WWE have a lot of confidence in the procedure and the doctor doing it.
    It was also good to know that Lesnar's well enough that he's expected back next week.  And the 8-man tourney to determine the #1 contender?  Well, OK, so a lot of us smarks kind figure John Cena's the guy in line... but maybe the fanbase at large is not convinced he deserves the shot.  So I think running him through a tourney, getting wins over Undertaker and (probably) Benoit is a great way to establish him.
    But the best part about the tourney is that it's actually laid out to give the Fed options and to give the fans reason to doubt that Lesnar/Cena is a foregone conclusion.  Specifically, the Benoit/Rhyno match is loaded with uncertainty.  One guy or the other could turn heel, which would set up the freshly heel-turned guy to actually face Lesnar in a PPV match. In this scenario, you put Cena/Lesnar on a slow burn and let Cena's mouth build up the intensity even if the two aren't in direct competition.
    Something I'd seriously look into:  when Rhyno won by DQ last night due to A-Train's outside interference, he actually wound up getting double-teamed by Train and Big Show for several minutes.  Where was his "friend" and tag team partner, Benoit?  Probably sitting in the back, laughing it up as his opponent for next week got softened up.  Certainly, he wasn't making the save.  Which probably doesn't sit well with Rhyno.  Benoit could be the heel since he pulled the initial dick move, or Rhyno could go evil by over-reacting to Benoit's lack of support.  Either way, the Fed laid some interesting groundwork last night for the Rhyno/Benoit match.
    But now I'm getting way ahead of myself...  for the time being, I'll just tell you that I liked last night's show; I hope that next week they give the wrestling a bit more time to shine (especially Benoit/Rhyno), but I'm certainly not gonna complain about an entertaining 2 hours where storylines are front and center.  You can get full SD! details in Big Danny T's Recap.
  • The overnight rating for last night's SD! was a 4.5.  I was too busy putting together the WM19 preview last Friday, so I don't know how that number compares to last week.
    Luckily, as always, it doesn't really matter too much...  it'll be the final number (which I'll have in Monday's column) that tells the real story about how well SD! performed.
  • Brock Lesnar was recently interviewed on-the-air in Minneapolis, MN...  he talked a bit about the motivation for bringing out the Shooting Star Press at WM (having the last match, after fans had already seen 3 or 4 other possible main event caliber matches, meant he wanted to give them something special), and also noted that he really does not remember finishing the match at all.
    Interestingly, when asked if he'd ever perform the move again, Lesnar basically said "no," but later amended that to a "probably not."  He could not rule out 100% that he would, at some point in the future, feel like he would need to bust out the SSP again.
    For whatever it's worth, I'm of the mind that he shouldn't mothball the SSP just because of what happened at Mania...  I place more significance on the numerous times that he HIT the move cleanly than on the one time he missed it.  Yes, the miss at WM was spectacular, and he's lucky to have walked away from it.  But he's gotta have the confidence in past successes to know that he probably won't miss it that way again.  Especially if he doesn't try to clear two-thirds of the ring next time.  
    I'm not advocating it as his new finishing move for use on all shows...  I'm just saying that when the time comes, in the right situation, against the right opponent, the SSP should be "in play."  At which point it should be Brock Lesnar -- and not fans or WWE officials -- who decides whether or not to use it.
  • Another interesting aspect of last night's SD! were a pair of bumper spots, hyping the return of Piper's Pit next week on SD!...
    Now, I'll leave all the finger pointing and name calling to others; yeah, it's true Piper's said some nasty things about Vince McMahon and WWE, and is now going to collect a regular paycheck from them.  But who cares?  Really, what business is it of yours?
    What I'm concerned about is that Piper's strength behind the mic has not been in evidence in recent months.  From rambling interviews in support of his book release last year to a couple of appearances on NWA-TNA shows, Piper hasn't displayed the cogent, rapier-like wit that made him every bit as responsible for the success of the first WM as Hulk Hogan and Vince McMahon. 
    As good as Piper was -- and if you missed my NFD Redux piece from yesterday, check it out to remind yourself -- I find myself sitting here thinking that it's a good thing that they decided to put Piper's Pit on SD!, the taped show.  Just in case, you know. 
    There could, however, be real value in bringing back Piper's Pit.  The charm of the segment was that, unlike traditional interviewers, Piper wasn't just a microphone stand.  He was a Shit Stirrer Extraordinaire.  In this day and age of unassisted in-ring promos or just talking backstage to the Coach, a sharp, on-his-game Piper could provide a valuable, combustible element to the played-out and often uneventful talking heads segments common to today's wrestling shows.
  • If you missed Damian's recap, let me quickly fill you in on TNA's latest round of surprises...
    Both New Jack and Mike "Bart Gunn" Barton appeared on Wednesday's TNA PPV.  New Jack teamed up with Sandman and Perry Saturn in an alliance of ECW alumni, while Barton interfered after that match, going after Saturn.
    Who'd have thought that of the two Smoking Gunns, Bart would be the one still featured on PPV at this point?
    In any case, I like both these pick ups more than last week's surprise appearance by Nelson "Mabel" Knight....
  • I think that's about enough for this week...  no need to do the half-baked tangential rant I've got bubbling under (I don't quite have my hook or thesis, yet, but there was just something a bit... I don't know... OFF about the near "Russo Logic" of both Bischoff and McMahon sending home top drawing workers that just two months ago they were courting; one incident I can accept without over-analyzing, but two in one week just kinda caused my inner smark to sit up, take notice, and get a little pissy).
    I'll 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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