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Booker T, RAW/Rating, Bob Sapp, 
TNA, and Other Stuff, Too...
August 13, 2003

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


You following this Pete Rose thing that past 2 days?  I can't believe BaseballProspectus has the story right...  my lack of faith in Bud Selig's good judgment is so utter and complete that I cannot believe he'd actually do the right thing and put Pete in position to get into the Baseball Hall of Fame, where he belongs.  On the flip side, my faith in Selig's short-sighted vendetta against Pete is so ardent that I cannot believe he'd additionally let Pete back into baseball with essentially a free pass to hold any job he wants by 2005.  I see the BP story as unrealistic on TWO fronts.

Look: Pete should be in the Hall, and should have been 12 years ago.  But even I won't necessarily campaign for Rose to be a manager or involved in day-to-day baseball operations again.  My indignation was always about MLB's insistence that Pete's alleged wrong-doings should erase his impressive positive contributions to the sport.  I was never quite as upset that such alleged wrong-doings seemingly disqualified him from making future contributions.  You do the crime, you do the time.

I think ESPN's probably got the right story here: Pete will be taken off the ineligible list this off-season, which will get him onto the HoF ballot with either 1 or 2 more years of eligibility left to get inducted.  And he'll make it.  And he can take part in on-field ceremonies, like getting his number retired in Cincinnati.  And maybe be a color commentator.  Or play in old-timers games.  Stuff like that.  But it'll be a cold day in hell before MLB lets Pete manage a baseball team.

But who knows?  Maybe baseball looks at Pete and sees dollar signs...  I guess I wouldn't complain if BaseballProspectus was right.  Those of us in Cincinnati are the ones who probably stand to benefit the most.

On with the rasslin':

  • The news on Booker T is inconclusive at best.  And quite bad, if the worst case scenario comes to pass.
    The back injury that necessitated his unexpected dropping of the IC Title at a house show on Sunday night will, at the very least, sideline Booker for 2 months.  I'm not clear on the precise condition of Booker's back, but at this time, a definitive diagnosis cannot be made regarding whether rest and rehab will be enough to get Booker back into ring shape, or if surgery will be required to correct the problem.  That will come a week or more down the line, when some of the trauma in Booker's back has subsided and doctor's can see how he's responded to a period of rest.
    There is, it should be noted, a serious concern that if surgery is required, this could be a career-threatening injury.  That, my friends, would suck.
    Booker is, I believe, 38 years old.  Still far from used up by wrestling standards... but perhaps old enough to look at a surgical procedure and lengthy rehab (and at the risk for a future re-injury) and say, "This isn't worth it."  That's essentially the decision made by Dallas Page a year ago.
    There really isn't a whole lot more to add to this story right now.  We'll know more in coming weeks, and for the time being, well, we've got our fingers crossed on your behalf, Booker.
  • For the second week in a row, I got a kick out of RAW.  Though the single outstanding wrestling match was missing, the show was entertaining, top to bottom.
    Again, I cannot over-emphasize just how funny the bit with Goldust, Lance Storm, and Molly Holly was.  I could talk it up for paragraphs at a stretch, and still not raise your expectations to the point that you wouldn't laugh out loud the first time you saw it.  The next logical step: don't just tell me about the kielbasas and midgets... show me!  Al Snow should probably be brought in to consult on this...
    I got some feedback to my positive review, and of that which was negative, it seems the point of contention is all the time being spent on non-wrestlers.  In this case, Eric Bischoff, who in two weeks has wrestled and won two matches and now has himself a spot on the SummerSlam card (a show that is a joint-brand PPV, and thus, has fewer spots for each brand's stars).  This is, to your way of thinking, unconscionable.
    I disagree.  As long as the non-wrestler is still an entertaining and credible performer, he can and will contribute positively to any show.  Even this week, Bischoff was doing little things -- be they facial expressions or whatever -- to convey a story and to make the overall product as entertaining as possible. Plus, his PPV match will be against Shane McMahon, who of all the class of non-wrestlers stands out as a big timer performer.  I don't see what the big deal is.  Yes, theoretically, it probably stands to reason that RAW would be better if it contained a 15 minute Chris Jericho match instead of heaping piles of Bischoff.... but in reality, the mix of sports and entertainment necessitates a certain amount of deviation from the smark's desired formula.
    On Monday, I thought they again hit the sports/entertainment intermix equation right on the head.  You had a few good-but-short wrestling matches, the Goldberg/Flair main event was merely OK, but also told a story, and you could also point to the nicely presented JR/Austin/Bischoff thing as a show-arcing angle that kept me entertained even if is pissed off the rest of you.
    I am just happy to be able to fully enjoy RAW for the second week in a row.  For a while back in July, there, I was getting concerned...
    Full results and details from RAW are available right here, in case you missed 'em.
  • The rating on Monday night:  a 3.9.  That's down another one-tenth of a point from the week before (which itself was nominally down from the two weeks before).  The 3.9 is, however, just about at RAW's two-month average.
  • OK, so after RAW on Monday, I'm doing some channel flipping.  A little sports highlights, a little "Tough Crowd," and always a few trips down to the real low numbers to check out the talk shows.  Now, I loathe Jay Leno, but I knew he was having Bob Sapp on the show Monday.
    Who's Bob Sapp?  Well, for the sake of brevity, let's just say this: he's an ex-football player and ex-WCW developmental wrestler who has become a huge star as a shootfighter in Japan for K-1.
    Now, I've had a few of his fights sent to me, and yes, this guy is scary.  Imagine if Brock Lesnar was about 2-3 inches taller, about 25% thicker, and black.  And then picture him beating the piss out of opponents in sort of kick-boxing-based shootfights.
    That's all well and good, but even after seeing some tapes of him fighting, I had no idea in hell why the Dave Meltzers of the world have spent the past year or so perpetually kissing this guy's ass.  He's a failed pro wrestler who's big and bad enough to make it as a shootfighter, I thought.
    Well, after seeing Bob Sapp on Leno, I think maybe I change my story.  But I'm not lining up behind Meltz to give Sapp a reach-around or anything.  What the guy does in the ring, that's one thing.  What I saw on Leno was different.  I saw a guy who should equal dollar signs if he ever seriously wanted to pursue pro wrestling full time (instead of as a part-time diversion between his K-1 fights).  He was personable, charismatic, and of course, positively ENORMOUS compared to "normal" guys like Jay and Mr. J-Lo.
    My one thought was this:  remember last year when Vince had a hard-on for doing a Lesnar vs. Lewis shootfight, but it fell through?  Well, forget all about that.  I doubt WWE can afford to contract Sapp as a full time, exclusive worker for them given what he commands for a sporadic schedule in Japan, but they could do business together.  And they should.  A Lesnar vs. Sapp match, done under some modified shoot-fight set of rules (which is what they were gonna have to do for Lesnar/Lewis, anyway), would be a LOT more fun to watch, and probably just about as big a draw.
    Why?  Because (a) Lewis is on the down-end of his big-name marketability, and (b) Sapp (courtesy of an ESPN K-1 PPV this week) is on the cusp of becoming a major star here in the US.  Maybe not in the same way that Lewis, Holyfield, Tyson, and heavyweight boxers are household names, but at least as big as the Shamrocks and Severns from UFC's golden age were.  And probably bigger, since shootfighting/MMA has lost a lot of its stigma as a bloodsport, which kept UFC from prospering more back in the late 90s.
    Mostly, though, I look at this as the fight I'd rather see.  Boxer vs. Wrestler has been done before, and it's usually sucked.  But Sapp's not a boxer, he's a fighter, and the resulting match against a pure grappler like Lesnar would be tons more entertaining, I think.
    It's Sapp's charisma, though, that puts this over the top.  Holyfield's a big name, but I've never once seen him "own the room."  Sapp did that on Leno.  I'm sure he can do it if you give him a mic in front of 20,000 people, too.
    Sorry if this is boring you... but I feel it's my duty to make up for a year's worth of not giving a damn about Bob Sapp.  My guess is, one way or another, you'll be hearing more about this guy in the future, too...  and I don't mean because he's the star of the K-1 PPV that'll air this Friday night.  OO doesn't cover MMA, but I'd be shocked if Sapp didn't make a splash in the domestic wrestling scene before too long.
  • While on the topic of late night TV appearances.... you want to make sure to catch Conan O'Brien tonight (Wednesday late night/early Thursday).  His lead guest will be Mick Foley, who will probably be pushing his book more than wrestling, but who will -- just the same -- probably be a very entertaining guest.
    If you miss the show tonight, it reruns on Comedy Central throughout the day on Thursday, too.  Well, not "throughout," but probably twice, I think.  I know when I miss Conan, I can catch it the next evening at 6pm, at least.
    Also: tomorrow night (Thursday/early Friday), Chris Jericho will be the guest on the Tom Green Show on MTV.  And I'm sure he will be talking wrestling...  unless Green has him molesting an under-aged possum, or something, instead....
  • The pricing structure for tickets to WMXX at MSG in New York City has been announced....  and if you want to sit ringside, you'd be take out the second mortgage.
    The first few rows around ringside -- which include the gimmick where you get to take home the specially-designed chair you sit in during the show -- will be going for $750 (knowing TicketBastard, add on another $50 service charge, or something, too).
    From there, tickets get a bit more affordable.  Still, the absolute cheapest seats in the house will be going for a hefty $55 apiece.  WWE should clear a $2 million gate based on these prices, which is amazing since the crowd size will be about one-third of the size of the last 3 (domed) Manias, which drew in the $3.5 million range, if memory serves.  With one third the crowd, WWE stands to do better than half as well at the gate.
    Even with these prices, tickets will probably sell out in hours when they go on sale on September 27.
  • WWE.com has apparently been having trouble lately.  Back on Monday, anyway, a few people wrote in to say they visited the site only to be greeted by a splash page featuring Al Wilson and Tough Enough 3 headlines.  OO Reader Ryan MacMichael even sent a long a screen capture to prove he wasn't hallucinating.
    Can't tell you what might be wrong there, but maybe those difficulties are what kept the dot-com crew from reporting on Christian's IC Title win earlier than they did?  I don't know.... anyone still having those anomalous headlines pop up, or is it fixed now?
  • A few readers mailed in with a heads-up on a "whistle blower" article yesterday in USA Today.  The article basically looks at companies whose business/stock price is in decline, but whose CEOs are walking away with appreciating salaries.
    Among those called on the carpet: Vince McMahon and WWE.  Vince's bullet read: "World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). Shares of the pro wrestling marketer tumbled 37% to $9.08. But Chairman Vince McMahon's salary rose 8.5% to $1.1 million, and he received $850,000 for "talent fees" that the company says include personal appearances and developing plot lines for shows."
    About a half-dozen other companies/CEOs were listed, too, and I'm sure if USA Today had wanted, they could have found plenty more visionless morons being massively overpaid by their companies.  That's how the system works, people!
  • Lastly today, the requisite TNA preview...
    The show this week is headlined by a one-on-one Raven vs. Shane Douglas match, the culmination of months of feuding and tag matches.  And while it's the biggest "name" match on the show, and a reminiscent of the glory days of ECW, it may not even be one of the top couple matches on the show.
    Those honors could go to an X Division #1 Contender Ladder Match between Michael Shane and Frankie Kanzarian... or possibly to a Jerry Lynn vs. Elix Skipper match.  Maybe even to an NWA Title defense by AJ Styles against the very talented Lo Ki.
    Other matches scheduled tonight:  America's Most Wanted and Dusty Rhodes vs. Simon and Swinger and Glenn Gilberti....  3 Live Krew (Konnan, Ron Killings, and BG James) vs. Devon Storm (Crowbar), Vampire Warrior (Gangrel), and Sinn (Sinn).....  additionally, you can bet both Jeff Jarrett and Christopher Daniels will be in the house to stir their particular pot, as well.
    This actually sounds like a pretty loaded show.  If you're looking to drop $10 on some wrestling, and can't wait till TNA's one cent show to see their product, this wouldn't be a bad one to check out.
    But if you don't, fret not.  We'll have a full recap here at OO on Friday for you....
  • Be sure to come on back here tomorrow, too.  Not only will we have the next part in the "OOld School" Monday Night Wars feature, but we'll also be debuting a new insider news reporter's weekly column!  And probably some Jeb, too.  Or maybe not.  I don't know, yet.  He hasn't told me. 
    Remember: you must visit OO every day of the week.  Except Saturday and Sunday.  Unless you want to go back and catch up on some columns that you missed earlier in the week.  Or maybe chat in the Forums.  Then it's OK to visit on the weekends.  
    See you tomorrow....  right?  TOMORROW!


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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