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Flair Honored After RAW, Rey Hurt,
Ratings Down, Diva Search, More...
May 21, 2003

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


Lots to talk about today:
  • As good as Monday's RAW was to those of us who watched it at home, it turns out it was even more special for the thousands who showed up in Greenville, SC, for the live event.
    After the exceptionally dramatic Ric Flair/Triple H main event, and after Steve Austin's announcement of the main event for Badd Blood, the cameras shut down and the entire lockerroom cleared.  Even Vince, Shane, and Stephanie McMahon came out.  Everybody was handed a beer by Steve Austin, who seemed to have an endless supply.  All of 'em had a salute or hug for Flair, who had already broken into tears at the impromptu ceremony.
    A couple of the guys decided to raise Flair up on their shoulders for a final round of cheers when the one guy who WASN'T present decided to make an entrance.  Triple H hit the ring, and teased that he was upset with Flair at first, but then hugged him and actually handed him the World Title belt to display to the crowd.  Then HHH encouraged Flair to say a few words to his fans.
    So Flair said that he had a lot of memories of Greenville, and that a night like tonight made him feel like he was still in his prime.  He acknowledged that the wrestlers today are way more talented than he is at this point in his career, and told fans to support them and give THEM special nights like tonight, too, because they always give it their all.
    But, and here's the important part: he also said he still feels like HE has a little bit left to give, too.  Some fans had begun to think this was a retirement ceremony.  But it was not.  My understanding is that Flair didn't know it was coming, though WWE personnel throughout the day had started thinking something like this was an appropriate tribute to Flair, given the venue and how he was being used on the card.  Flair closed with some thank yous to the fans, and then ran the gauntlet of more hugs and toasts up the ramp way to bring the show to a close.
    An exceptionally special event to those who saw it live.  And I was perhaps a bit inaccurate by saying this happened after the cameras stopped rolling.  It happened after RAW went off the air, but of course, the whole thing actually was taped, so maybe they'll use it on a DVD release (Flair's due to get the Career Retrospective treatment, eventually, don't you think?) or on Confidential (they can't pimp Liz for ratings for much longer)...
  • The broadcast edition of RAW ended a slightly less satisfying fashion.  The way Flair had been built up over the night -- first thankful just for the shot, then questioning his own ability, and finally deciding to pour it all into one last shot -- was perfect and I have to admit, I WANTED to see Flair win.  Even as every smark fiber of my being was shouting, "Don't Believe!  It's wrong for a thousand reasons!," I was still buying into it.
    And of course, at the end of the night, Flair got pinned cleanly.  The part of me that sold out to the moment was disappointed.  But in retrospect, the rest of me knows that not every Flair match could be contested in the Carolinas...  that if the 50-plus year old Flair gets one last title win, it should come as the pay off to a major storyline, and not just the result of one night's spontaneous decision to take advantage of geography.  
    For me, it's enough that I did believe Flair could win for a few minutes on Monday.  That he didn't, maybe it is a disappointment.  But it also means we don't have to open up the can of worms that Flair as a champion with no build up would open.  And also, you cannot dismiss the value that simply putting Flair in such a purely visceral setting may provide.  From here, you could have a rejuvenated Flair go off on his own, wondering why he was playing second fiddle to Triple H... this could be the start of the involved storyline that gets the whole wrestling world -- and not just Greenville, SC -- to buy into the idea that Flair could be champ.  Or you could use this as a device to strengthen the HHH/Flair relationship, but with Flair now established as something more than a lackey; he'd be a worthy tag team partner, and given the state of affairs on RAW, a super team of Flair and HHH has genuine value.  Or you could pursue any number of other options, too...
    And as easy as it is to hand out a gold star to Ric Flair, how about just one or two sentence about Triple H.  No, he had nothing to do with the years of history that Flair called upon to entertain that Carolina crowd.  But he gets at least half-credit for crafting a match that, psychologically, let that live crowd believe their long-time favorite might win.  He was a contributor to RAW's success, too.
    I think just about everything else I thought about RAW has already been covered.  Check out my RAW Recap from yesterday for the full blow-by-blow.
  • The rating for Monday's show was back down... after an anomalously high 4.4 last week, RAW pulled a 3.6 on Monday night.  That's roughly on par with where the show had been averaging.
    I guess it's easy to point to Goldberg's RAW wrestling debut against Christian the previous week as the main selling point that helped drive ratings... but usually, the Fed can expect a bump on night's after PPVs, too.  Guess not this time...
  • While on the topic of ratings -- and to elaborate on a snippy aside comment from above -- "Confidential" again did a significantly higher-than average 1.0 rating on Saturday night.  The week before, they did a 1.1.  Both shows heavily hyped information about Elizabeth and Lex Luger as their main selling points.
    My understanding is that the piece this weekend was essentially nothing but a repeat of the previous weekend's piece, just with a few updated comments from host Gene Okerlund tagged on at the end.  This is also the piece that I'll assume we got to see on last week's SmackDown...
    Duping the audience into showing up for essentially a repeat of something you already broadcast TWICE probably only strengthens my opinions from last week about the Fed coming of as exploiting this tragedy in a way that they would not have if Liz and Luger had been affiliated with WWE at the time of the incident.
    And while you may cynically applaud them for taking advantage of the morbid curiosity of fans by going ahead with that exploitation, you also have to wonder how long they'll be able recycle this stuff before hipness to the scam overtakes morbid curiosity among viewers...
  • For the second week in a row, some bad news out of SmackDown! tapings...  now, I won't spoil anything here -- if you want that, click here -- but I will pass along that Rey Mysterio seemed to hurt himself in a match taped for tomorrow's show.  He finished the match, but was then helped back to the dressing room by officials.
    If the injury is to his groin as has been suggested, this could be a very tricky situation.  Often times, there is not a whole lot to do with groin injuries -- no matter how minor or severe -- but to let it rest and recover on its own.  Witness Mike Piazza's recent (severe) groin injury: even with the best doctor's the Mets' money can buy, nobody knows if Piazza will be out 6 weeks or the whole season.
    More on this in coming days...
  • A few other "news-y" and not "spoiler-ish" items from tapings last night:
    Ric Flair was present backstage.  His son David wrestled a dark match at the tapings, and Ric was there supporting him.  David also wrestled a dark match at RAW tapings.  Generally speaking, the reviews were not too impressive on David, who's progress apparently stalled out while he was in the WWF developmental system in 2001.
    And Spanky Kendrick wrestled a match at the tapings, too, despite reportedly suffering a concussion at Sunday's PPV.  That seems awfully quick, but my guess is Spanky has learned that when you get your spot, you do everything you can to hang on to it and not let somebody else take your chance.
  • I am often easily impressed by my own exceptional wit and rhetorical skill...  I also like to think I've surrounded myself with a bunch of other really entertaining writers.
    That said -- even though it is only Wednesday -- the Internet Wrestling Column Line of the Week belongs to somebody else... somebody who actually writes for one of the overall most pedantic wrestling sites on the web.  It belong to... WWE.com's Edge.
    Edge writes: "Anyway it has been a good week for [Christian]. First he buys himself a brand new Porsche Boxster, wins the newly reinstated Intercontinental Title, and gets a nice new haircut. Not too shabby. He needs to give Trish her pants back, though."
    HA!  This cinches it:  out of all the real wrestlers who write internet columns, Edge is the only one who I think could hide under a pseudonym and win over just as large a percentage of his audience with his writing as he ever did with his wrestling. 
    And no, I'm not stumping for "Wanky the Worker" to debut right here on OO... I'm just saying is all...

    Read the entire latest from Edge right here.
  • WWE is doing a "Diva Search"...  I guess with the demise of "Tough Enough," they want to keep the pipeline full of fresh meat via other means.  Instead of a TV show, it looks like the deliverable in this case will be a magazine full of wannabe divas in various states of undress.  And then one of them will actually get the WWE contract.
    So, if you're a babe interested in using your hotness to get ahead, but aren't quite adventurous enough to do that Playboy Playmate Search/Girls Next Door/Whatever They Call It thing, then head to divasearch.wwe.com and get the info.
    And if you heard about this here and click the above link, remember:  OO owns 10% of all your future earnings.  We gotta make our money somewhere...
  • That about does it for me today...  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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