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Booker/HHH on RAW, Hogan, KAIJU!,
and Other News...
April 21, 2003

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


A belated Happy Easter to all -- all who celebrate such things, anyway.  A general wish of good will to the rest of you.  I basically forgot all about the holiday until I got a call from my mom, asking me what time I'd be home on Sunday... after a brief moment of wondering, "Why would I be going home tomorrow?", I pieced it together: I may be basically areligious these days, but no way could I resist the most delicious holiday meal of the year!

Also, yesterday was 4/20.  Huh huh huh huh, 4:20.  Ah, just kidding; damned annoying hippies....

So anyway, with my annual ham and chocolate binge behind me, I can now concentrate on some rasslin':

  • Tonight on RAW, they're hyping two major things.  One that I care about and that has serious possibilities.  And the other which is more akin to a bright shiny object that will easily distract that average wrestling fan from paying attention to the aforementioned more important thing.
    And I hope they don't burn me tonight, but I honestly believe the Triple H/Booker T title match is the Important Thing tonight.  That it won't just be a six minute TV match lacking any real tension as they build up to an excuse to haul Ric Flair, Chris Jericho, Shawn Michaels, and Kevin Nash into the ring for a cheap schmozz ending going into the PPV.
    Because if that's all they've got planned, there are gonna be a lot of disappointed fans out there.  Booker T gains nothing in this scenario.  Fans (most of the sharp ones, anyway) gain only exactly what they assumed would happen in the form of the six-man schmozz ending.  And the title match itself gains only the prestige of becoming just another over-hyped shiny object that increasingly only appeals to the simpler minded wrestling fan; keep in mind, a World Title has not changed hands on free TV in almost two years (since Austin over Angle in 2001, I think), so after years of warp speed hyperactivity of the titles, we're once again becoming desensitized to the idea that free TV title matches actually mean anything.
    And in the mean time, I'm sure "Rock Concert II" would get 25 minutes in this scenario.  And listen, much as the Rock has been pure gold the past 3 months, he can only benefit if you tighten his act down to its best material.  If he can carry 20 minutes, fine; but make sure it's all necessary.  Because when the second Rock Concert hits the ring, it's unlike the Booker/HHH match in one key aspect:  while it may be every bit as entertaining a ride as (if not more so than) the title match, there is no real drama over how the segment will conclude.  Probably Goldberg tries to interrupt, and then I'm guessing Christian shows up to run some interference; then one of two things happens, either (a) Rock takes advantage of the interference to get in his one really good shot on Goldberg before the PPV (probably my preference), or (b) Rock plays chickenshit again while Christian absorbs his bumps for him.  I have no concerns that Rock Concert II won't be fun...  but I just don't see it as the kind of segment that can have an ending that has people standing up and delivering a standing ovation when it's done.  Alternately laughing and booing their asses off along the way, yes, but only up to a relatively anticipated ending.
    Which is exactly the opposite of the opportunity that Booker/HHH offer the Fed tonight.  Maybe they start off slower and don't have the whole crowd rolling for 20 minutes straight like the Rock could...  but by the end, if they do this right, a lot of people stand to gain.
    At the top, let me say this:  I know a lot of people advocate "righting the wrong" from WM, and think tonight should be Booker T's night to win the title.  I would like that very much.  But it's not the only outcome I'd accept, either.  
    When I say "do this right" above, basically  I mean this:  treat tonight's title match as something special.  As far as storylines will allow, isolate Booker and HHH all night long as they "prepare for the big match."  While everybody else is doing Monday night Crash TV, Booker and HHH should be giving off a more PPV vibe.  When Nash and Michaels get their mic time to talk about the internal dissension last week, Booker either doesn't make an appearance, or speaks up just long enough to say, "You know, dawg, I got my plate full this week, so let's just worry about that later."  Nash/HBK and Jericho/Flair can carry the PPV feud early in the show, is all I'm saying (if anything, it's an added bonus opportunity, since if HHH is focused on something else, it gives Jericho the much-deserved chance to be the lead heel for his side tonight, when interacting with Nash and Michaels).  
    When it's match time, you give Booker and HHH 20 minutes, again, do it PPV style; with fewer people than ever buying PPVs, maybe it's anti-intuitive to give away a PPV type match on RAW, but I disagree.  Booker has put on solid performances, but he's never had that one breakthrough match with an audience big enough to matter.  Here's a chance for a match to matter that way for him.  To sell the audience at large on the idea of paying for future Booker T PPV matches.  Win or lose, a match that seems epic in scope and that has the right ending (you probably gotta get those other four guys involved, but hopefully only tangentially until AFTER the decision is rendered; you want this to be as clean as possible) will accomplish a couple things.  First, it improves fan perception of Booker T's standing in the company (the Fed screwed the pooch with Kane and RVD last year, but here's Booker, the one guy who's staying in the hunt, still hanging with HHH even after a PPV loss, either competing gamely for the title, or perhaps even winning it in a RAW rematch)... second, a good TV wrestling match can't hurt HHH's image, either, as he tries to regain his 2000 form (both in reality and in the fans' fickle eyes)... and third, hell, what bad can come out of OVER-delivering on a main event for once?
    Again, outcome aside, the process is what matters tonight... hopefully, with the Fed shining a dual spotlight on tonight's show, we'll all be able to sit here on Tuesday and agree that the one thing most worth talking about was Booker T vs. Triple H.
    Which is not to say that my hope for something worthwhile out of the main event and something moderately entertaining out of the Rock's 20 minute promo precludes the rest of the show from delivering anything halfway decent.  Rock/Goldberg and the six-man tag are arguably the two biggest matches on the Backlash PPV card (no comments on the caliber of said card... save that till Friday!), but they are also just about the only PPV matches set in stone from the RAW brand.  Which means we've got some business to take care of tonight.
    The prospects:  actually, I think Trish vs. Jazz for the women's title is "on" after Jazz made Trish tap out last week (but the women's division has been sloppily booked since Mania, what with Trish/Victoria seemingly like the primary feud until last Monday suddenly changed things, and with Ivory thrown in as April's Random Diva Cameo without actually doing anything substantive... I think it's Jackie's turn again next month)...  for as much time as they're putting into it on Monday nights, you gotta expect the tag titles will be on the line at the PPV; the question is, "How?"; the Duds have treaded water in their "we HAVE to be heels, but we really aren't" role as long as they can, but if I had to wager a guess, I'd say they milk the feud three-way style through the PPV (at which point maybe Regal's well enough to return, and sets the next phase of the story into motion?)...  I'm sure Test's incomprehensibly incompetent defenses to Stacy's insanely irrational overreaction will continue to lead those two towards Splitsville, for as much as anyone really cares about that; one request, though:  Test continuing to confide in Goldust makes absolutely NO SENSE unless Test has become mentally retarded in the last month; on the other hand, continued random displays of Stacy's ass are a completely logical storyline development, in my own damn opinion....  and speaking of romantic entanglements, I wonder if they pulled the plug on Jeff Hardy, Leading Man, or if they just let his deal with Trish rest last week; I guess we could be in for Trish/Jeff vs. Jazz/Rodney Mack if they want to continue... 
    Tune in tonight to see how the Fed manages to pay-off on what looks to be a top-heavy RAW that will be the last before heading into what looks to be a top-heavy PPV.  Or at the very least, come on back for Recap and Satire tomorrow, here on OO.
  • A pair of readers mailed in to mention that Hulk Hogan briefly chatted with "Bubba the Love Sponge" on the latter's syndicated radio show today...
    And since I briefly mentioned an outside possibility that the heavy-handed "Mr. America" gimmick might be a sort of flimsy "Yellow Dog"-esque disguise for a returning Hogan on Friday, I guess it's only fair to mention that Hogan was asked what he knew about Mr. America... at which point he launched into some fairly vague and mysterious compliments about all the great things he (Hogan) had heard about Mr. America.
    So, despite my cynicism (mostly based on the fact that I'd been hearing that Hogan would be gone a while longer before staging a comeback), Hogan's apparently not doing anything to discourage you from thinking that the Mr. America gimmick might be his.  [BTW, when I mentioned Friday that I thought Hogan was scheduled to be gone until June or July, even though the burn on Mr. American looks to be much shorter, two readers both mailed in with the same basic idea:  if you slow down and extend the hype for Mr. America by 4-6 additional weeks, you could have Hogan make his debut as Mr. America just in time for the Fourth of July, which would be fitting.]
    Then again, according to one of the OO Readers, Hogan also said that they guy he most wanted to come back and wrestle was Nathan Jones.  So apparently, somebody's been messing with the Hulkster's vitamins, or something...
  • The next round of WWE videos will come out in late May... actually, I don't even know if "two" constitutes a "round," but...
    One will be a Rey Mysterio feature called "619."  The main video itself will apparently focus more on Rey since his WWE debut last June, but DVD extras will include some WCW archival stuff.  Nothing quite like the mind-blowing two-disc treatment that they gave to Hogan, but there should still be some good old stuff in there.
    The other release will be WrestleMania 19... at least the last two Manias (or is it three?) have both been two disc releases, so hopefully THAT trend WILL continue again this year.  In addition to the usual backstage stuff and extra details from the "Road to WM," you could toss in stuff like the previous Rock/Austin matches and a big look back at how Hogan/Vince/Piper all worked together to get the first WM off the ground, all of which would be cool things.
  • To hype his WWE in-ring debut, Bill Goldberg is gonna be on the Jimmy Kimmel show tomorrow night...  it's on ABC, but check your local listings just in case your market has got "Extra" or some crap like that on between "Nightline" and the start of Jimmy's show.
    Don't know of any other real big media appearances slated for this week, heading into the PPV... seems like maybe a bit of a down PPV, so perhaps the marketing effort is down, too?
  • If gorging yourself on pork and sweets wasn't festive enough for you, here's some feel-good holiday sentiment from Bret Hart... nothing quite as interesting as last week, but a really cool story from 9 Easters ago.
  • Last thing for today:  KAIJU!
    Yes, in my never ending quest to actually get that free stuff they promised me when I started pimping them out last year, allow me to warn the denizens of New York City that Kaiji returns to Manhattan this Friday...  and if you don't know what the hell Kaiju is, well, you betta call somebody.  Or just go to www.kaiju.com.
    In short, Kaiju is like wrestling and a Japanese monster movie all rolled into one.  With some other stuff, too.  From my first exposure to the concept, it sounded like a sweet thing to check out while getting blitzed with some friends: the sort of perfect blend of hilarity and ass-whomping that invites a certain level of crowd involvement.
    This Friday's show -- dubbed "Ballroom Blitz" --  is expected to be Kaiju's Biggest Battel to date.  It's at the Roseland Ballroom, where the capacity is about 3000.  Doors open a little before 8pm, and for two hours, there will be chances to mingle with the monsters, as well as pre-show music from the Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players.  Then the Battels start at 10pm.  The five match card will be headlined by Kaiju Champion Silver Potato (he of the dreaded au gratin style kick) defending against the nefarious Hell Monkey (managed by master of malpractice, Dr. Cube).
    For those of you in the NYC area, trust me, this will be a killer way to spend some time on Friday night.  For the rest of us, well, Kaiju is promising books and videos for sale at some point in 2003, so we'll wait for those.
    Tickets for Friday night are $20 now through TicketMaster... though with their service charge, you're probably just as safe waiting till Friday night and paying $25 at the door.  Remember:  Danger Can Happen!
    Hey, you know something... all these comic-book/sci-fi-convention-types wet themselves with dreams of "cross-overs" (What if Superman teamed up with the X-Men to fight the Matrix?  What if the Enterprise fought the Millennium Falcon?  What if Xena and Wonder Woman were trapped on a desert island, forced to explore their forbidden passions together?  That sort of crap...).  Well, I think my dream cross over would be to have Strong Bad invade Kaiju.  Even if it never comes to a match, the promos would be sweet!  And if it did come to a match, well let's just say I wouldn't bet against The Cheat running interference while Strong Mad brought the hammer down...
    But maybe I've said too much.  I swear, I've never BEEN to one of those conventions in my life.  Ever!    
  • I'm out for today...  at the very latest, I'll be back again on Wednesday with Spoilers and other midweek news.  See you then.



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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