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Latest on Liz/Luger, RAW, De-Evolution,
TNA Thoughts, and Lots More...
May 5, 2003

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


Ahhh... I don't know about you, but I'm fresh off of a weekend that was literally chock full of Things That I Normally Wouldn't Do.  Unfortunately, I'm not talking about playing a rock show where we make more money than we drink or the fun that would be had by all if I found myself in a jacuzzi full of Playmates.

Nope, I'm talking about things like waking up at 7:30am on a Saturday...  like drinking can after can of Coors Light...  like spending  a night listening to no-good punk kids singing karaoke... and having to do that latter at Chi Chi's, of all places.  Such is life when attending Little Brother's college graduation.  On the upside, I was happy to supply all the Big Brotherly support I could when it was decided that the Muncie-area Chi Chi's should be relieved of one (1) of its tacky paintings.  That was pretty cool.  

But now I'm home, and it's back to the usual routine.  This should, for the foreseeable future, include no visits to shitty Mexican theme restaurants, for karaoke or otherwise.  But it does me getting the week started with some rasslin' news.  So let's go:

  • There is not a whole lot new to report in the unfortunate passing of Elizabeth Hulette...  preliminary reports issued on Friday offered no conclusive cause of death, and so now we basically have to wait until toxicology reports are available.  That could weeks or even, according to a WSB-TV report out of Atlanta, months.
    The same report seems to close the door definitively on any suspicion of foul play in Liz's death.  As recently as Friday, police were quoted as saying they did not know if Elizabeth's death was a homicide, suicide, or the result of natural causes.  A more recent update seems to indicate authorities will be focusing on the latter two possibilities.
    Liz was living with Larry "Lex Luger" Pfohl at the time of her death, and it was to Luger's residence that medics rushed on Thursday morning in an attempt to save her.  Luger was questioned briefly about Liz's death, then released, and then arrested on 14 charges -- 13 felonies and 1 misdemeanor -- all related to drug possession on Thursday night.  He is currently free on $25,000 bond.
    The substances found in Luger's home were basically all physique-enhancing substances, which I guess isn't exactly shocking.  The only drug outside of that category found in Luger's home was a supply of Xanax.  Police and media are careful to point out that charges against Luger are completely unrelated to the death of Elizabeth, and that we must wait until toxicology results are in before attempting to make the leap in logic that a drug overdose caused Liz's death.
    It's also unclear if authorities see any connection between a domestic disturbance from Easter Sunday (Luger was arrested and released on $2500 bond after allegedly striking Liz) and the events of Thursday. 
    Though it's hard to muster pity for a guy who supposedly decided to rough up his live-in girlfriend just 2 weeks ago, even a cynic has got a feel a bit for Luger.  He lost his girlfriend, which must be a terrible personal loss.  And his subsequent arrest on unrelated drug charges may end up having the final effect of terminating his professional wrestling career.
    Going back to comments I made last week before all this happened, I'm not sold on the hearsay and rumors that had Luger poised to make a WWE comeback.  I have no doubt that Luger would enjoy such an opportunity; I do, however, have doubts about just how mutual that interest would have been.  And after last week's events, I can't presently see the Fed registering any interest level above "zero."  As a publicly traded company with its own troubles related to perceptions about rampant drug use, WWE probably doesn't need the headaches that would come with employing Luger at this point.  And at age 44, Luger probably really only has "at this point."  
    I would hope that the Fed does decide to include some form of tribute to Miss Elizabeth on its shows starting tonight.  But beyond that, it might be a few weeks before we have anything new and substantial to report on this story.
  • Tonight's RAW has the task of living up to last week's all-around quality TV...  maybe a bit of a challenge, but probably one that the creative team is happy to face.  I mean, hell, when was the last time most everybody agreed that back-to-back RAWs and SmackDowns were both really entertaining?  Even if we go back to bitching and moaning this week, they can pat themselves on the backs and say, "Well, we had 'em for a while."
    The focus on RAW seems to be at the management level, namely the start of the Co-General Manager Era.  Steve Austin and Eric Bischoff will no doubt have wildly varying ideas about the direction the RAW brand should take.  Austin will have his ability to physically threaten his partner to get his ideas pushed through; Bischoff will probably have no end of slimy back-room legalities to aid him.  The challenge here will be to book this in such a way that it does not feel like a boring stalemate, but so that it also doesn't look like one of the co-GMs has a significant advantage over the other.
    I'd bet that Austin's first win will be the return of Jim Ross to play-by-play duties on RAW...  hopefully as soon as tonight, but no matter what, it won't take too long for that to rise to the top of Austin's agenda.
    Elsewhere, Kevin Nash is clearly positioned to be the challenger to Triple H in time for the next PPV.  The finish at the PPV, Nash's subsequent retaliation that cost HHH and Flair a shot at the tag titles, it all points that way.  The only other option would be to go with Nash/Michaels vs. HHH/Flair, but we already did a version of that with the six-man at the PPV.  The tag match would work, but probably only if it involved the tag titles (which, as a result of the match last week, doesn't seem likely).
    I know smarts aren't too anxious to see a Nash/HHH PPV match...  it's apparently against the rules to like a guy over 6'10", and I think we all know what the internet thinks about HHH.  In this case, you can point to Nash's limited performances to date, including some poorly reviewed house show matches against HHH, if you're trying to make the case for this match sucking.  But c'mon: if you're trying to grade Nash at this point and are giving him anything other than an "Incomplete," you're being a prick.  Even at his best, he ain't Benoit, I know... but he's been solid before, and I don't believe we've seen enough to discount the possibility that he might be again.  I'll call a spade a spade in another 3 weeks if I have to.  But for now, I'll give this a shot.
    As good a reason as any to give it a shot:  look at what they've done with Goldberg.  One week ago, we sat here wondering what all those boos at the PPV might mean.  Six days ago, we were all discussing quietly how Goldberg was the breakthrough star of the night on RAW.  See, it is possible to turn the fans around 180 degrees, and it doesn't always require 25-minute wrestling matches.
    Goldberg's bad-assery had the net effect of landing him in the middle of any number of possible feuds, all of varying levels of competitiveness and marketability.  At the top of the pyramid is probably a money feud with Chris Jericho, the merest foundation of which was laid last week.  Somewhere in the middle is Christian.  Mostly likely to get waxed tonight on RAW: Steven Richards, Rico, and/or Three Minute Warning.
    The "C-Team" of quasi-jobbers are exactly the types of opponents Goldberg needs if they want to build the Streak again.  Given that Rico and 3MW were put over huge on Heat last night, it would not surprise me if they got the -- ahem -- JOB tonight against Goldberg.  Unlike last week, you do it in a sanctioned match setting so that the number of wins can go up.  The added benefit: you can book it so that Christian comes off like the ringleader of the C-teamers looking to upend Goldberg, but he never does the dirty work himself.  This leads, logically, to Christian being a sacrificial lamb at the next PPV for Goldberg.  Either that, or you speed up Goldberg/Jericho enough so that you can do Goldberg/Booker T vs. Jericho/Christian.... the Goldberg/Booker tandem seemed to be a logical one after last week, but only Jericho/Christian would supply ample enough firepower from the heel side to make it work as a PPV feud.  Rosie/Jamal or Rico/Nowinski just doesn't cut the mustard for me...
    If Jericho is to get involved, then he's got the custom-made platform from which to launch the next wave of hostilities.  His "Hi-Lite Reel" interview segment is nothing if not a flimsy excuse to get Jericho plenty of mic time every week to run his mouth.  From this spot, he might ramp it up with Goldberg, maybe start a side project against Booker (since otherwise, he's got nothing going on, either), or maybe just use the mic time to help tell somebody else's story.  We'll see... but it is good to know that, in one capacity or another, Jericho's gonna have something to do every week.
    Other storylines central to RAW: the Dudley Boyz have been re-suspended, so there goes my thought that the creative team was doing a great job building to the end of that particular storyline; instead, they've basically just reset things instead of going for the climax....  meantime, RVD/Kane remain tag champs, much to the ire of Chief Morley; but again, though RVD/Kane have only been champs a month, the whole division seems so stale because the tag titles exist over here in one area, while the main storytelling is going on over here with Morley and the Duds; I say why not do another transition period of "superteams" holding the belts (like HHH/Flair, Michaels/Nash, or Goldberg/Booker), cuz nothing else is working...  Teddy Long will probably have another Five Minute White Boy Challenge, but the fact is that he's got a better shot at contributing something worthwhile tonight courtesy of an affiliation with Jazz; since Trish won't get dragged down into more perversion with Bischoff, she can probably be more focused on Jazz and the women's title; also of note is that last night on Heat, Ivory got a win in a match in which they dusted off Jackie's gimmick as a special referee, which I'm sure is no idle coincidence...
    Check out RAW tonight or come on back to OO tomorrow for a full recap.
  • All of you waiting with baited breath for the victorious return of Evolution, I've got some bad news...
    Dave Batista, thinking he was more than half-way through a rehab from a biceps injury, re-tore the muscle last week.  According to WWE.com, the injury occurred when Batista fell while out running with his wife.
    Now, following another surgical repair, Batista is back to square one, looking at another four-month layoff before he can resume in-ring duties.  In the wake of the early-March injuries to both Batista and his Evolution partner, Randy Orton (in the same house show match, by the way), the official stance was that Evolution was not dead, but would merely hibernate until both men were ready to go.  Originally, the thought was that both could be back in about three months.
    Orton remains on schedule to return in perhaps 3-4 weeks from his foot injury.  Batista now expects to still be in a splint at that time.  Obviously, what had been projected as a smooth return for both members of the Evolution faction at the same time cannot take place now.  
    Time will tell what this means to the Evolution concept...  Orton has actually already displayed some of the charisma and ability to break out on his own as a star.  But he and Batista both would have stood to benefit from being involved in storylines with proven performers like HHH and Flair.  We'll see where this one goes...
  • At least Batista has a time table... William Regal, absent from TV for the past two months, still doesn't know when he'll be back.
    Prior to his final wrestling appearance at No Way Out, Regal was battling a viral infection and mysterious weight gain, as well as a rapid heartbeat.  On that show, he suffered a concussion, which was excuse enough to take him off the road for a week.  But during that break, his other problems escalated to the point where Regal did not return, as expected, after a one week break.
    Eventually, doctors discovered that the right side of his heart had stopped functioning, resulting in his increased heartrate, decreased bloodflow, and weight gain (the lack of blood flow meant the kidneys couldn't process all the body fluids).  A combination of electric shocks to his heart and a steady diet of pills (to thin the blood and goose the kidneys) have got Regal back to feeling 100%.  
    But because of the nature of his medications, he cannot return to wrestling in this present state.  He bruises very easily now, and can only return if doctors decide he's in the clear to get off the pills.  This could happen at any one of Regal's monthly check-ups, or it could happen never.  At any rate, the current plan if for Regal to be back on TV in a non-wrestling role within the month.
  • Ratings for last week's SmackDown! came in at a 3.2 final rating.  That's up one-tenth from the week before.  Along with gains for RAW, it was a good week for WWE in the ratings.
    BTW, I was a huge fan of last week's SD!...  Spanky Kendrick and Brian Hebner were hilarious in their segment, and even if it's just for a one-off match, I think Kendrick and Cena should work really well together.  Also, it was kind of neat to see Hogan and Piper involved in the same segment, but in a way that -- for once -- was almost so creative and fresh as to be surreal.  How long will Hogan in a mask seem creative and fresh?  I don't know, but for now, the "Mr. America" story seems to be going pretty well.
    Why is it I can be so positive about a show that also seemed to lay the groundwork for another Lesnar/Big Show PPV feud?  Simple:  Los Guerreros vs. Team Angle, Ladder Match.  One balances the other.
    Full results of the massively entertaining show are right here.
  • While I'm going back to TV events from last week that I didn't get to talk about on Friday, a few words about the big NWA:TNA PPV...
    It was, if I may be candid, my first TNA PPV in over 4 months.  I try to be a good wrestling fan, but I'm also not so mindless so as to invest my time and money in something that doesn't fully entertain me.  Hey, TNA, don't feel bad: I can't remember the last time I watched a weekend WWE show (PPV Sundays excluded, of course), either!
    So was last week's show one that will have me rushing back every single Wednesday night from now on?  Eh, probably not... but it was a very strong show and one that makes me think that maybe I was WAY too harsh on the company after some of the crap they pulled last December.  I probably should have given 'em a second chance sooner.
    Without going too deep into it, the undercard was alright, with AJ Styles and D'Lo Brown providing the hands-down highlights.  And the main event, the primary selling point of the show?  Well, Jarrett and Raven busted ass.  They were wearing crimson masks within five minutes, and Jarrett showed a propensity for brawling that I hadn't seen out of him in years (if ever).
    That said, they chose a finish that left me very frustrated.  Jarrett, after being handcuffed and attacked by about a half-dozen men, was released from the cuffs (by Raven himself, who decided not to stand around and look like an idiot just watching the ref fumble with it), kicked out of Raven's finisher, hit his own, and won.  Just like that.  One move by Jarrett after Raven threw EVERYTHING at him.  Bam.  Over.
    Part of my complaint is that I would have liked to have seen the title change.  All the build up, enough to make me tune in, and eh, it's just another win for Jarrett.  History was not made.  But I ain't that immature.  I can handle if the guy I like doesn't win, as long as it happens in the right way.  But the way things went last week felt like a blow-off match, like what should have happened six months from now when Jarrett FINALLY gets his revenge on Raven.  The intra-match psychology leading up to Jarrett getting his one big move and a win after everything he went through does not lend itself to future matches.  It's like they took the Raven/Jarrett story, decided to lop off about six chapters from the latter half of the book, and jump straight to the finish.
    A lot of fans may not know the smart terminology, or even look at wrestling in a "smart" way, but they can latch on to the pacing and feel of matches and stories.  I think one vibe they would latch on to is that Jarrett/Raven isn't REALLY an epic storyline -- as TNA might want you to believe -- if Raven doesn't actually get a win and walk away with the title at some point.  So telling that big "blow-off" type story with the match last week probably left just about all fans (not just the smart ones with their insider dictionaries) sort of wondering, "Oh, so that's it?"  It was an anti-climax to an otherwise very effective show.  Hell, to an otherwise very effective match.
    Yeah, I know that there are probably other -- backstage and business-related -- considerations at work here... mostly the fact that Raven refuses to make any long term commitments to TNA, preferring to work for the company on a series of shorter, month-to-month contracts.  Raven doesn't want to promise he'll be around in six months to do the blow-off-style match when it makes more sense... and TNA doesn't want to put their title on a guy who's current contract is due to expire a couple days later.  That's a bit of an impasse.
    I'm getting off track, though... point was that I really liked what I saw last Wednesday night.  Disappointment with the finish of the show aside, there was enough there to make me feel very comfortable saying that TNA is definitely worth a look from all fans.  Maybe not every week.  But almost certainly more often than once every five months.
  • I got some e-mail saying that TNA is hyping that Jarrett will be a part of the May WWA tour of Australia, and that he'll be headlining the biggest show of the tour (again being taped for a PPV here in the US) against Sting in a TNA/WWA Title unification match.
    Now, don't get me wrong, Sting/Jarrett should be very good, about as good and marketable a main event you can get without using WWE stars... but I thought Luger beat Sting for the WWA Title last tour.  So a unification bout?  I think not.  And I'm not sure about the legalities of such things, but I'm also thinking that Luger may be asked not to leave the state of Georgia, much less the USA, for the next bit o' time, here, so it's not like he could do some WWA dates, drop the title to Sting, and then watch as Sting and Jarrett had the title unification match later in the tour.
    Did I miss something, or is there gonna have to be some revisionist WWA history written for this to work?  I thought it was Luger over Sting (thanks to interference from Jarrett) for the vacant WWA Title, last I heard...
    WWA's having a hard go... first they put the title on Steiner, and he jumps over to WWE.  Then they put it on Luger, and well, he's got other things to deal with besides being a fighting champion at this point.  Why do I get this image in my head that if they suddenly start acting like Sting's the champ, suddenly, Steve Borden might start thinking one last farewell run in the Fed ain't such a bad idea...
  • I think that just about does it for me today...  I'll have spoilers and other news in a Wednesday update, so I'll see you again 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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