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RAW, Goldberg/Jericho, Hennig Wrestles
on PPV?, and More...
April 9, 2003

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


Well, so the Reds have won two straight (knocking on wood) without Junior Griffey, and Dayton is set to name its new head coach (MSU Izzo Assistant Brian Gregory, it is believed) in a matter of minutes this afternoon... so chalk Monday's Sports Anguish up as a fleeting case of anxiety.  I feel much better, now.

So on with the wrestling:

  • Monday's RAW is making waves not so much for what happened on-screen, but for what people are saying is happening off it. 
    The story goes like this:  Bill Goldberg and Chris Jericho got into a pull-apart brawl backstage after RAW went off the air.  This was said to be the result of the combination of comments made earlier in the night by Goldberg and "bad blood" that goes back to their days together in WCW, where Goldberg nixed a proposed feud with Jericho because he was an undercard cruiserweight at the time.  Jericho went straight to Goldberg to discuss the problems, and before you know it, BAM, they're on the ground together.
    Now, far be it from me to suggest that WWE or its workers might encourage the circulation of misleading or over-exaggerated information if it gets fans talking about their product... but, witness:
    Fact #1:  Jericho never really had a problem directly with Goldberg over what happened in WCW.  Rather, Jericho is said to have known that Goldberg was advised by someone else to nix the feud, someone with more experience in the business.  That advisor was presumed to be Hulk Hogan, with whom Jericho has done plenty of business since with no major flare ups.
    Fact #2:  Jericho and Goldberg playfully interacted at a charity hockey game about a year ago.  There was no bad blood then, and even though Goldberg was not the part of any active roster at the time, he did a mini wrestling angle of sorts during the game with Jericho.  You can speculate about the amount of bad blood between these two five years ago in WCW, I guess; but one year ago, the amount was seemingly zero.
    Conjecture by The Rick:  just on Monday, I made an off-hand joke about how long it would take the internet to remember the Goldberg/Jericho non-feud from 5 years ago, and how long it might take after that before they started clamoring for the Fed to serve up a properly done version of the feud.  Well, with the Rock going back to Hollywood after this next PPV, Goldberg would be without opposition; and we've all now just been conveniently reminded of Goldberg's "history" with Jericho.  Almost TOO perfect.
    Of course, for every one of my pores that overflows with cynicism over the lengths to which WWE will go to perpetuate the New Work and the tactics they will use, there are counter balances.  Like the fact that even I am hearing second-hand accounts of the first-hand eyewitness reports that say Jericho and Goldberg actually did go at each other on Monday.  Even assuming things get blown out of proportion in the telling (length of the confrontation, number of punches thrown, etc.), you're left to believe that there is a kernel of truth in this story.
    Goldberg does have confirmed erratic behavioral patterns in his past; the incident in which he confronted Triple H with little or not provocation at a trade show many years ago could be used as evidence that Goldberg doesn't need a particularly good reason to act irrationally towards a fellow talent.  And you have to wonder what value spreading a story like this one would actually have towards developing a Goldberg/Jericho feud: I mean, Jericho'd have to be the on-screen heel, right?  And Goldberg's the one who comes out of this looking sorta dick-ish.  So that part doesn't fit, either.  [And actually, there had been cursory rumors that the post-Backlash plan for Goldberg was a World Title feud with Triple H, anyway, so that'd make my conjecture a doubly bad fit.]
    Keeping in mind that I have, of course, talked to nobody who actually saw this, I will tell you that even down the grapevine, the vibe is that Jericho is in the right here, and very few are high on Goldberg's long-term value to WWE.  For whatever that's worth...  I'd say just follow this story at your own risk, and with a salt shaker handy.
  • Don't believe me that the Fed could ever actually take the side of Jericho, the under-sized mid-carder, over Goldberg, the monster who perfectly sates Vince's big man fetish?  Well...
    The rating for Monday's RAW was a 3.5.  Or a DROP of two-tenths from the week before, which itself was widely considered a disappointing performance in the wake of WrestleMania.  Both shows were predicated heavily on the "shocking" appearances of Bill Goldberg.  He has not delivered viewers, so if it's true that he's stirring shit backstage, this would make it easier for WWE officials to take someone else's side.
    Now, in defense of the 3.5 rating:  Monday was also the NCAA Championship game, which scored the night's biggest numbers for CBS, and as always, pulled very strongly from the pool of young male viewers.  On the other hand, you could look to last year's RAW rating up against the NCAA Finals, and see WWE did a 4.8... or look to the post-No Way Out RAWs where Steve Austin returned, and see that RAW was up in the low-mid-4's for a few weeks...  and in either case, the 3.5 from Monday's doesn't look so hot.
  • Rating aside, Monday's show was actually a pretty good one.  I thought the main event tag match was very good, with RVD/Morley just a step behind in terms of best of the night honors.  The Michaels/Booker vs. HHH/Jericho match not only had the (expected) extra heat from the live fans, but it also provided another non-title win for Booker over HHH and a perfect introduction for Kevin Nash.
    For Booker, the pinfall over HHH revives his pre-WM momentum a bit; it could set the stage for a story where Booker can score these wins, but always keeps falling short with the gold on the line.  For a while, anyway; obviously, he'd have to break through at some point, but I think you could really milk it (and keep the pissy smarks right in your back pocket the whole while) if you made Booker wait till at least his 3rd or 4th title shot.
    And for Nash, he did just enough ass-whooping to look impressive; BUT, it was all on Jericho, meaning he held enough back to maintain a ton of interesting storyline possibilities between himself, Triple H (who he avoided attacking), and Shawn Michaels (who he seemed intent on saving).  Also: Nash did not hurt himself at all during the run-in, which is a plus.
    Like I said, RVD/Morley was my second favorite match of the night; the way they put the Morley Administration over after RVD and Kane won the tag belts last week was pretty cool, too.  Morley got the win over RVD, but only thanks to Storm and the Dudleys.  Later in the night, the Duds beat Kane in a handicap match to cement the heels' comeback night.  On top of it all, the interaction between RVD and Kane was intriguing; RVD was way more cocky and into making pot references than he's previously been in WWE, but so far, Kane seems to be enduring it.  How long will that last, thought?  Good work and good storytelling in these three segments (two matches and one backstage bit).
    Rock's work on the night was a step down from recent efforts, I thought: with Christian, it seemed a bit forced (the "born-again Christian" line was a groan-tacular example of what I mean), not nearly as organic as what happened between Rock and Hurricane in a similarly out-of-left-field confrontation last month.  And with Goldberg, I don't know, it's good that Rock's playing the Chickenshit (tm, That Potty-Mouthed Jim Ross) so enthusiastically... but that he'll end up facing Goldberg at the PPV is such a foregone conclusion in even the densest fan's mind that Monday's in-ring call-out of Goldberg seemed really quite pointless and non-productive.  It's fun to see the Rock work, and all, but it's even more fun when he's putting the effort towards something meaningful.
    And on Monday, about the most convincingly-meaningful thing the Rock did was hit on Trish Stratus, and then get pissed off when Jeff Hardy interrupted him.  I feel your pain, Rock; that pairing makes no sense to me, either.  It did, however, lead to a good Rock/Hardy match, my third favorite of the night if for no other reason than it was a blast to hear the teenage girls squeal in support of Jeff while the rest of the crowd unanimously decided to cheer Rocky.  I'm sure Jeff's a nice guy, and if there's something about his body-painting, hanky-sporting, sensitively-creative Xtreme Artist vibe that underage girls like, that's fine, too.  They like Justin Timberlake, too, so that doesn't shock me.  But I guess that the other 80% of the crowd hasn't found much about Hardy to care about other than when he's jumping off of high places.
    The rest: JR quitting didn't exactly shock me; I entertained the thought last week after his venomous comments, but I'd hoped they wouldn't pull the trigger if for no other reason than I don't like the idea of hamstringing your commentary effort with a tertiary storyline...  Jazz joining the Mack Attack is probably no gain for her, and no gain for Rodney; but Teddy Long might profit the most (at least now, he'll be on RAW with Jazz as she challenges Trish, instead of stuck on Heat with Rodney)...  Steiner/Nowinski and Goldust/Richards tie for Pointless-but-Harmless Segment of the Week...  and two independent (but equally-clever) OO Readers wrote in to suggest that the Grenier/DuPree tag team should be called The Freedom Connection (you know, playing off of how "French Fries" are now "Freedom Fries"... and also "Freedom Toast," "Freedom Tickler," etc, etc, etc); I like it.
    Get the full details from Monday's RAW right here.
  • A minor bit of ratings data, just to sort of set a baseline:  Heat on TNN did a 1.0 cable rating.  That's basically where Heat had been performing for MTV, so it's probably a good thing that even though TNN is available in fewer homes than MTV, WWE retained the same audience.
    I will now go back to ignoring the weekend WWE ratings, which are often trivially low.  Because people like me aren't usually watching.  Damn me, I'm a terrible fan, and an even worse person!  
  • Ironical-type note: this week's SmackDown will be going up against WCW on TBS.  Just like the old days.  Well, OK, not really: "Ready to Rumble" makes its free-TV debut on TBS in the 8pm Thursday timeslot.
    Strangely, the commercials I saw for this Major Television Event while watching TBS' ingeniously scheduled back-to-back Seinfeld on Monday evening did absolutely nothing to make me want to relive this crap-a-thon.  Again, this lack of pure, blind fanaticism must make me a bad person, or something.  If I really LOVED THE BUSINESS, I'd watch "Ready to Rumble," right?  
    No?  Oh, good...
  • In an article confirming that Kurt Angle's neck surgery is slated for later this week (as we talked about on Monday), WWE.com also slid in a note that says Steve Austin has been told by his doctor that it might be time for a second spinal fusion surgery.  Such a surgery could be career-ending, which no doubt goes a long way to explaining why Austin's been shunted into a non-active role.
  • A few readers have seen the XWF pay-per-views that has been airing on some cable and satellite systems the last few weeks...  I guess they're trying to milk this a bit like the TNA PPV model, though I haven't seen these shows availably on my cable system.  The events, which were taped 18 months ago as Jimmy Hart attempted to launch a new national wrestling company with a set of tapings down in Florida, sound like they are almost completely nondescript.  No matches much over 3-4 minutes, but with a fast pace and a surprisingly slick look that kept it from being too awful.
    The biggest note:  Curt Hennig was featured in the main events of both XWF shows so far, being Buff Bagwell in one and losing in about 3 minutes to Vampiro in the other.  Commentary was also done 18 months ago by Tony Schiavone and Jerry Lawler, and thus, no mention was made at any point that Hennig had passed away.  The two readers who passed along thoughts on the show were split between whether this was funny or if it was in poor taste.  [I'd say it's probably just an inevitability when you're dealing with a product that's been in the can for 18 months; but also, I'd say that maybe thinking this is funny COULD be in bad taste.]
    Rocco Rock (teaming with Johnny Grunge) is another deceases star who appears in an active capacity on the XWF roster, with no mention of his death during the intervening months.
    Beside Lawler, other current WWE performers who appeared for XWF:  Roddy Piper, Dawn Marie, Sable, Gene Okerlund, and Hulk Hogan (interview only).  Konnan, AJ Styles, Kid Kash, Lo-Ki, Malice, and Chris Daniels were among the current TNA stars who were on this show.  Fleshing out the roster were WCW cast-aways like Buff Bagwell, the KISS Demon, Johnny B. Badd, the Nasty Boys, Juventud Guerrera, Psicosis, Devon Storm, Horace Hogan, and the inimitable Norman Smiley.
  • And lastly, since I mentioned the TNA initials, let's quickly talk about tonight's NWA-TNA PPV...
    The most heavily hyped match seems to be Sandman and New Jack vs. the Harris Twins vs. Slash/Brian Lee in a gimmick match that will feature all kinds of weapons and a garbage-y ECW-type vibe.  Also of perverse interest: Dusty Rhodes vs. Brian Lawler in a ladder match (I mean, honestly, who sees Dusty going 8 feet up in the air for ANYthing at this point?).
    Other matches:  AJ Styles vs. SEX's Glen Gilberti...  Jerry Lynn, Amazing Red, Jason Cross, Shark Boy, and two others I'm forgetting right now in a match to help determine a #1 Contender in the X Division...  Perry Saturn vs. Mike "Bart Gunn" Barton...  and David Young/Athena vs. Sonny Siaki/Desire.
    Plus: Jeff Jarrett, D'Lo Brown, Raven, and Ron Killings are the guys in the NWA Title picture, and some of them should be around to do some talking or some wrestling... and I think the NASCAR thing I mentioned last week should finally go down this week.  If you care about that sort of thing.
    Tune in to TNA tonight, or come on back tomorrow for Damian Gonzalez's recap! 
  • No, I still don't know exactly when the OO Forums will be presentable.  And damn all of you who figured the way to circumvent my current index page to get to a semi-functional version of the forums!  
    See you again on Friday...


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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