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RAW Reverts, Brand Resets, Crash 
Released, Hogan Update, Lots More...
July 2, 2003

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


OK, OK, OK... I get the message:  Hulk Hogan did beat Vince McMahon at WM19, so if he really does never appear again in WWE, he can claim he went out on a high note.  You are all right, and I was wrong.  You are smart and I am dumb.  You are very, very wise, and I am ignorant of even the most basic wrestling facts.

I apologize for my mistake in Monday's column, and blame the Decade of Destruction I've been wreaking upon my brain cells since being introduced to alcohol.  I'm also once again reminded that nothing gets me more e-mails than when I fuck up.

It's good to be loved!

  • Just to change things up from the usual Wednesday routine, let's go ahead and start with updating the Hogan situation, shall we?
    It turns out my rushed and half-assed assessment of Hogan's comments regarding leaving WWE were likely very much on the button.  Hogan really does have a few things that are frustrating him right now, but his hiatus from WWE was mutually arrived at between him and Vince McMahon last week, and was amicable enough.  
    And most people I've talked to agree with the point I made Monday: that Vince and Hogan are both too wise to let this be the swan song for the Hulk Hogan character.  The expectation among the vast majority is that Hogan will take his time off, let his body heal and let his mind forget what's made his last few months so unsatisfying, and then come back to make one last chunk of change for himself and for WWE.
    Then again, in the last day or so, a new twist to the story has Hogan upset about that very chunk of change, and not just disappointed with the creative direction of his character.  I won't dispute that Hogan was probably displeased with the size of his WrestleMania pay-off.  But with that in mind, I'd also remind you that Hogan's no moron, and he can tell that business as a whole is down, and knew that going into the biggest show of the year.  It stands to reason that, disappointment aside, he can understand the cause and effect relationship that resulted in lower pay-offs.  Supposedly, a lot of guys were unhappy with WM19 pay-offs, and I doubt Hogan would distinguish himself by being the only one who got so pissy that he'd leave the company over it.
    Nah, I'll stick with the assessment that Hogan just saw himself stagnating, maybe even felt his body once again beginning to take the toll of 2 months straight of weekly bookings since he adopted "Mr. America," and decided, with the OK from Vince McMahon, to take a hiatus.  This stuff he'll say on the radio and other rumors swirling around may very well have bases in fact, but I also suspect there's a lot of hyperbole going around.  My guess is the WWE's door remains open to Hulk Hogan down the line, and that he's amenable to walking through it.
  • However, that doesn't get us past the fact that his departure does have an immediately, short-term affect on creative plans.
    I think I can say -- safely, and without being a "spoiler" -- that WWE completely wrote the Mr. America character out at tapings last night.  I remain semi-partial to the idea I presented on Monday (keeping "Mr. America" around in a semi-comedic capacity, with different guys adopting the gimmick briefly, even if just to screw with Mr. McMahon), but I also appreciate the fact that the Fed came up with a logical explanation for Hogan/America being gone rather than just ignoring the situation (as they are likely to do with Roddy Piper). 
    But doesn't it feel like these recent shake-ups -- Hogan and Piper gone being the biggest ones -- have sort of resulted in a storyline reset?  I can't get too in-depth about the SD! side without revealing spoilers, but there were a couple of mid-storyline shifts made that send a number of guys in different directions than you'd have anticipated if you'd seen the past few weeks of TV...  I'd say we'd talk more about this on Friday, but since it's the Fourth of July, I'll be presenting a pre-written OOpinion piece (I think you'll like it) instead of covering current events.  So for now: just keep this in mind as you watch SD! tomorrow night.  Maybe we'll reprise the topic next week.
    Even RAW is not immune to sudden shifts in creative plans, it seems.  Though the only real shake-up/uncertainty over there surrounds Bill Goldberg (once penciled in as the no-brainer new World Champ by SummerSlam, now with an outside shot of not even getting that title match), they certainly had a RAW this week that didn't follow quite as smoothly and logically at all levels as it might have.
    If nothing else, the 7 woman battle royal and new champ came completely out of left field.  Even if it was determined that the rest of the wrestling fan world was not as big an Ivory fan as -- oh, let's just say -- me, some kind of transition and explanation for why this battle royal was taking place should have been a required step.  Instead, nothing: Ivory vs. Jazz for the title is done before it even fully starts, and now we've got... well, Jazz was never eliminated so she'll have a claim to the title rematch against Gail Kim.  And also, I cannot help but remember that Gail "accidentally" eliminated her fellow Canuck, Trish, from the match, which could lead to some fireworks.  All well and good, but also all very suddenly sprung on us out of nowhere.
    Again, I don't know whether to credit the behind-the-scenes shake-ups for this trend towards shifting storylines in mid-telling, or if it's something else (or perhaps just coincidence).  But I do know that it's kind of a disorienting phenomenon.  In some cases, sure, maybe we're going in good, new, exciting directions, which might justify the disorientation; but there are also a couple of very interesting burgeoning issues that now look like they'll go unexplored.
  • I don't feel the need to repeat myself too much, but we might as well touch on Monday's RAW.  As I mentioned above, as as I explained in detail in my RAW Recap, this was not a RAW that jellied my donut, when taken as a whole.
    I unconditionally dug the main event, as HHH and RVD had a really good wrestling match that built to a very dramatic finish up on the ramp.  Then the appearance by Kane with the mini-swerve of him chokeslamming Bischoff (instead of RVD, as those of us who took a gander at house show results from the weekend were obviously expecting) ended the show on a very intriguing note.
    But besides that, RAW was mostly populated by segments that fans were simply given no reason to care about.  For about a half-hour straight leading up to the main event, for instance, there were three consecutive matches for which there was little to no explanation or build-up, and the fans got increasingly restless with each one (until they ended up chanting "Boring" during the tag non-title match).  Despite the strong finish, the show as a whole felt flat and uneventful, and worst of all, was not nearly as "stick" as in recent weeks.
    You can get my full, detailed thoughts right here.
  • An update on Austin's absence: in the recap, I said there were conflicting stories about whether he was supposed to be off last night, or if that was a late development that the creative team had to cover for after already writing Austin in.  There continue to be dissenters, but the widely held view right now is under the impression that Austin had the night off by design, and creative knew that.
    Oh well, I guess there goes my theory that some of the holes on RAW were attributable to Austin being a late scratch, and the emergency stop-gap format for the show being thrown together on short notice....
  • RAW's rating reflected that sort of lack of "stickiness" that I posited.  Instead of gaining momentum and viewers at a steady clip over the course of two hours -- which last week's RAW did spectacularly well, peaking at a massive 5.0 rating for Kane's unmasking -- this week's show started out stronger than last week's, perhaps a sign that some people liked what they saw last week and came back for more, but peaked way lower (almost a full point below last week's peak), for a final 2 hour average of 3.6.  
    That's down a third of a point from last week's average.  But again, I'd posit that what's important is that this week's killer HHH/RVD main event was seen by three-quarters of a million fewer households than last week's unmasking of Kane.  And that's probably the result of all of RAW's easy-out segments in the final hour.  If the show had been more solidly constructed, perhaps more viewers would have collected over the final hour, resulting in a higher ratings peak for the main event.
  • In going in-depth with SD! brand house shows from the past weekend, I neglected a point of interest from the RAW brand ones: that Mark Jindrak teamed with Randy Orton.  He's scheduled to go so again in coming weeks.
    Jindrak, who has been up from the minors working dark matches at TV tapings that past couple weeks, is the most heavily-rumored candidate to be the fourth member of Evolution.  He's a former WCW tag champ, and from the last I saw of him, might be best served to be a part of a faction like this where others can do his talking for him.  We'll have to see...
  • WWE officially acknowledged the release of Crash "Michael Lockwood" Holly, with the usually frilly language about wishing him the best in his future endeavors and all that.  As of late, Crash had been a marginal performer, working as third-in-command (the "Moore-on") in the Mattitude hierarchy.
    But, to give credit where it's due, Crash was actually a uniquely entertaining worker in his initial WWF run; I honestly thought his "super heavyweight" gimmick was never exploited to its fullest.  Later on, he even developed into the second-most-honored title holder in the company's history.  His two-dozen or so title reigns is second only to Raven (26, I think... credit to the OO Message Boarder who did the research on this one, and "boo" to me for not going back and checking for sure right now).  Of course, both are artificially inflated due to the Hardcore Title's 24/7 rule, but it's still kind of an interesting statistical quirk, no?
    To think, the Fed's second-most-honored champion AND Hulk Hogan going bye-bye in the same week...  what a crushing blow!
    Unlike a lot of recent WWE cast-aways like Raven, X-Pac, and D'Lo Brown, Crash was basically an unknown before adopting the role of "Crash Holly."  And he can't take that gimmick with him, should he decide to infiltrate TNA's X Division (a logical choice for him, I'd say), nor does he have any past marketable identity (like X-Pac with "Syxx") to fall back on.  Kinda sucks for him, but I hope he lands on his feet, nonetheless.
    And -- for now, anyway -- Molly is the last Holly standing...  I ain't complaining.
  • And I guess on that note, we are to the point of the mid-week column when we briefly touch on NWA-TNA...
    After last week's show -- which I thought was pretty damned awesome -- I must admit that this week's is looking a bit thin, at least based on what's been announced.
    Clearly, the selling point of tonight's show is an interview with Sting.  It's a sit-down job taped two weeks ago when Sting appeared at the 1st Anniversary show, and is being marketed as a pure shoot (though I'm sure that translates into the Russo standard "shoot insofar as shoot will benefit us").  As Sting has no designs on being a TNA regular (nor is it thought that TNA could really afford him beyond sporadic one-shot appearances), I'm hard pressed to really get too excited about seeing him sitting around and talking.  I mean, yes, it's Sting and that's cool... but what's he gonna have to say that's really interesting and pertinent to the TNA product?  Probably not much. 

    With an interview as the main event, the announced matches are: America's Most Wanted vs. Sonny Siaki/David Young for the NWA tag titles (should be OK, but won't come near last week's tag title match)... Sandman vs. New Jack in the climax of the "Hard 10" tourney (two guys better suited for this you could not find, so maybe they have a chance of recreating some of that ECW mayhem here)...  Jerry Lynn vs. Justin Credible in the third (fourth?) consecutive showdown between them...  and Erik Watts taking on Kid Kash's "Abyss".
    Of course, AJ Styles, Jeff Jarrett, Raven, Shane Douglas, and D'Lo Brown should all be around, too.  Even if they don't have announced matches, the chances are good that some combination of them will provide the night's highlights.  There are some very interesting interwoven issues swirling amongst them.
    Damian Gonzalez's TNA Recap looks to be back to a Thursday schedule (for this week, at least), so if you opt to skip this week's show, come on back here tomorrow for full results.  [Damian also wants me to mention to you that his site, www.TheSmartMarks.com, has got a new interview with Trish Stratus posted that he thinks you'll enjoy.]
  • I'm done.  For today.  But NOT FOR THE WEEK.  Forget my standard Friday absences over the past month! Not even the Fourth of July -- which I intend to spend pursuing the Great American Pastime of playing with explosives while drunk -- will stop me from posting an update this Friday.
    It'll be an OOpinion piece: a counterpoint to Chris Lopez's column about the various World Titles from 10 days ago, actually.  I don't expect you to check it out on Friday (except for all you Canadian bastards out there!  YOUR Fourth of July was yesterday!  Also, all you Brits are expected to be here on Friday, as you have no interest in celebrating us kicking your ass 227 years ago!), but I think if you make the effort to stop by at some point during the weekend, you'll find it interesting.
    Friday will also feature Battle of the Brands Round 5 (let's see if popular opinion will deviate from The Rick's opinion for a THIRD week in a row!) and a SD! recap, at the very least.  C'mon, it's worth the weekend visit!  [Tomorrow's gonna be Part 2 of the "OOld School" interview with Shane Douglas and Tom Pritchard, plus TNA Recap, and maybe something from that Lund character.]
    Later on, kids, and be safe on the Fourth....


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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