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ONLINE ONSLAUGHT
Eddie is Good...
And a Few Weekend NewsBites
August 15, 2003

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com

 

I'm in the middle of three consecutive nights of partying my ass off down in Cincinnati.  Barring unforeseen developments, that will mean three round trips, too, not to mention the inevitable headaches and pains that go with me turning it up a notch so I can showboat for the out-of-town crowd.  Which all adds up to me being a bit pre-occupied and busy with things other than wrestling this lovely weekend...

So: you get a column in two parts today... first will be a little bit of a OOpinionated rambling that I've prepared ahead of time to eat up some space.  Then, below, I'll close out with a smaller-than-usual smattering of news compiled on-the-fly here on Friday.  Enjoy!

Eddie is Good

I want everybody to think back... all the way to the year 1997.  A guy by the name of "Mankind" has been in the WWF for a little over a year, and after an initial push and feud with the Undertaker, he's really kind of stagnating.  Hardcore fans, who remember him as "Cactus Jack," still view him as one of the hardest working brawlers the business has ever seen.  But be honest: the guy doesn't look like a champion, he doesn't wrestle or talk like a champion, and thus, he's probably locked into a career as a mid-card attraction.  He had his taste of semi-main events, but once the newness of "Mankind" wore off, all you have is a pear-shaped guy who tends to get beat up alot.

And then a strange thing happened.  "Mankind" began to talk.  I mean, REALLY talk.  Not just disturbing, over-the-top, in-character ramblings, but an actual dialogue with the audience.  We learned the story of Mick Foley, the man behind "Mankind," and were introduced to "Dude Love."  Suddenly, fans had something a bit more real about "Mankind" that they could respond to.  During the summer of '97, the comic side of Foley was displayed as the "Dude," endearing him to fans.  Then in the autumn, when a feud with Triple H required an escalating level of violence, "Cactus Jack" made his WWF debut, and showed fans that humor is all well and good, but taking care of business in the ring was better.

As the calendar turned its page into 1998, Mick Foley, in any of his three incarnations, was an undeniable highlight of almost any show he appeared on.  He could tell an incredible story with a killer promo, or have a show-stealing brawl (often times with his tag partner, Terry Funk)... or he could flat out drop your jaw with something like the King of the Ring '98 Hell in the Cell match against the Undertaker.  It was a revival of a 2-year-old feud, and once again, Taker won the match.  But nobody talked about that.  All they wanted to talk about was Mankind's performance in that match.

From the summer of '98 on, it didn't matter to fans what Mick Foley looked like, or if he acted like any champion they'd ever known.  Fans knew Mick was going to entertain them like no one else on the card, and they responded to him in kind.  Hardcore fans were happy that Foley had gained the mainstream acceptance, but had no illusions.  Mick Foley could be the most popular man on the show, we thought, but Vince McMahon -- noted body-builder fetishist -- would never truly push Foley any higher on the card than "side show attraction."

Wrong.  In December '98, Mick "Mankind" Foley defeated the Rock to win the WWF Title.  Over the next year and a half, he'd hold the title three times (totaling a little over 2 months), and be involved in 10 PPV main events.  You could have hoped it and dreamed it, but you never would have bet on it: Mick Foley, a man who had poured his heart and soul (and body) into the wrestling business for over a decade, but the antithesis of everything the WWF considered important in a signature star, actually got what was coming to him.  Sure, it was a year and a half at the top after a decade of toiling as little more than an underground sensation.  But it was sweet vindication for Mick, and a little taste of Nirvana for fans, who got to enjoy the massively entertaining Foley on the main event stage, instead of as a side show attraction.  And it was enough to allow Foley to retire comfortably in early 2000.

Why do I bring this up today in the year 2003?  Simple: because I think it just may be time for us smarks to dream another little dream.  To throw ourselves 100% behind another underground sensation who looks and acts nothing like Vince McMahon's idea of a main eventer, and who has yet evolved into a consistent highlight of any show he appears on, regardless of whether its in the form of a wrestling match or an extended promo.  To consider the feasibility of another man who has been under-appreciated for over a decade being given consideration for a run at the very top of this industry.

In short, it's time to discuss Eddie Guerrero.  Because if there is any justice in the world, I want to label him "the next Mick Foley" and to have that prophecy ring true.  In a year's time, I'd like to look back and count PPV main events, and maybe a WWE Title reign, to Eddie Guerrero's credit.  Like Foley, he deserves them; and like Foley, he's had to fight extra-hard to even get to the position where he can realistically be considered for a spot at the top of the company.

Undersized by WWE standards, Eddie has followed much the same formula that Mick did five and six years ago.  Like Mick, he was known as a credible and entertaining interview before he came to the WWF, but also like Mick, that wasn't immediately allowed to shine through.  As a member of the Radicalz, Eddie was often limited to standard heel fare in his promos.  But over time, his natural charisma and sense of humor broke through.  A brief flirtation with his "Mamacita" gave us a taste of it.  Then late last year and into 2003, his "Cheat 2 Win" motto and over-the-top vignettes with his nephew Chavo sealed the deal.
 
Eddie's comic side pretty much forced a babyface turn, and took him from an undercard attraction to a go-to guy, even if only in the tag division.  Then, just as Mick unveiled a new side of himself when it became necessary to take care of business in the ring, Eddie took "Cheat 2 Win" from vignettes on the street into the wrestling ring.  Complex schemes became his trademark, and have, for the past 3 or 4 months, invariably resulted in Eddie coming out on top.  For Mick, it was Cactus Jack and a barbed-wire 2"x4" that made him a legitimate threat to beat established main eventers.  For Eddie, it's his ability to formulate diabolical plans to outwit his opponents and the referees.

In the latter half of 1998, fans forced the WWF's hand with Foley.  He'd get the loudest cheers of anyone on the card.  Today, it doesn't matter that Eddie's ostensibly a heel: sure he engenders a negative response in a number of fans, but he's also still one of the most popular guys on the card.  "Eddie" chants are tending to drown out the "Eddie Sucks" chants.  And in the end, what really matters is that that combined response is usually one of the loudest, most enthusiastic responses fans have to anyone on the card.

It's a very real, very genuine response that has grown out of Eddie's innate charisma and personality and ability to always deliver the goods once the bell rings.  It's something that many guys who DO look like champions and who do get that push lack, and it one can't help but wonder what would've happened if Eddie had the benefit of Brock Lesnar's 2002 push as "The Next Big Thing."

But that doesn't really matter now.  Eddie took the long road, and has built up goodwill with fans over the course of time.  It's brought him to this point... where he holds the US Title, but could, with just the slightest nudge, take another step up.  Think about it:  there are only so many iterations of Lesnar vs. Angle that we can run through before it gets old (or at least, before it has to lie dormant for a while).  Sure there's Undertaker to eat up a PPV match or two against the "manster," but then what?  How cool would it be to have another guy, a fan favorite who generates massive responses and who can flat-out GO inside the ring, to challenge Brock down the line?

I'm not so naive as to say it WILL happen.  There are too many reasons that the WWE braintrust would perceive of as perfectly valid to keep Eddie as the side show attraction Mick Foley once was.  He's too small.  He's too Latino.  He's too old, with too long a track record of undercard work to start investing main event resources into.  But those reasons don't matter to us fans.  And in the end, we DO have a say in this.  Afterall, we convinced the WWF that Mick Foley wasn't too tubby, too disfigured, or too-old-with-too-long-an-undercard-track-record to get his push in 1998.

I'm not sure exactly what we can do to facilitate WWE's realization that they've got something very special in Eddie Guerrero.  But in my heart of hearts, I'm hoping that "the next Mick Foley" is a tag that ends up fitting Eddie like a glove.  The long-under-appreciated star who finally gets his run at the top....  that's how, years from now, I want to be able to remember Eddie Guerrero.

You know, for the first time in Eddie's WWF/E tenure, the company is holding a TV taping in his hometown of El Paso, TX, later this month...  I have a feeling, even if only for one night, we'll get a taste of what a "SmackDown!" with Eddie Guerrero as a prominent main eventer will feel like on that show.  Perhaps THAT is all it will take to trigger the rest of the Foley phenomenon for Eddie?  We can wait and see... and hope.... 

Weekend NewsBites

  • I'm not a huge fan of dwelling on "news" stories that have no bearing on the in-ring product, but a ton of people e-mailed about this the past couple days, so I might as well mention it...
     
    As reported on the show "Celebrity Justice," Joanie "Chyna" Laurer has gotten a restraining order against her fiancÚ Sean "X-Pac" Waltman.  The two were engaged this past Spring, but apparently, the relationship has completely fallen apart.  Laurer contends that Waltman was very abusive towards her, threatened to kill her, and also threatened suicide.
     
    I didn't see the piece myself, but it categorized Laurer as "in hiding" due to the trouble... however, others have reported that as recently as last weekend, she was making personal appearances as scheduled.
     
    So there you have, it folks...  if hearing about other people's personal problems makes you feel better about yourself, hopefully that will tide you over.
     
    Unless... hey, you wanna here some Scott Hall stories?
     
  • I managed a quick, fast-forward assisted viewing of SmackDown! just before typing up these newsbites.  I think it was a bit of a step down from the last few week's worth of efforts...  if you want to know why, and if you want to know if the drop was enough for me to give my personal vote to RAW over SD! this week, you oughta check out the newest Battle of the Brands!
     

  • Obviously, an overnight rating for SD! is probably going to be delayed, and in the end, it's probably not going to matter anyway.  Ratings for SD! will be artificially deflated due to the massive black-outs that affected New York City (a strong WWE market) and other northeast and midwestern cities.
     
    This week's SD! rating will not really be all that useful a gauge of anything due to those factors.
     
    By the way, if it turns out the problem really did start in Ohio, allow me to be the first to say, "You're welcome, everybody."  Also: I was inconvenienced not at all by this!
     
  • Mick Foley's appearance on Conan O'Brien actually came very late in the hour... he was the #3 guest on a loaded show, rather than the lead guest.  The preview I had when I misinformed you on Wednesday only listed Marilyn Manson and Foley, and I'd assumed Foley would get the nod over Manson (who, as far as I can tell, is far past peak in terms of mainstream popularity).  Instead, Andy Richter was also on the show, and Manson also got in ahead of Mick, so...
     
    Regardless, Mick still managed to be very funny and personable, doing a riff on Winnie the Pooh that was subversively hilarious.  He got in plugs for his book, but also had some WWE footage and didn't downplay his past as a wrestler, either.  Good stuff, even if abbreviated.
     
    I did not see Chris Jericho on Tom Green last night -- due to me being in Cincinnati for a Guided by Voices show (main set gets an "eh," but they delivered the best encore ever to more than make up for it).  But 2 readers who did and who mailed in about it said Jericho was tremendously entertaining, and came off very well as an ambassador for WWE.
     
  • OO Reader Jim Enright has set up a Fantasy Football League on Yahoo...  he did the same thing last year, and once again extends an invitation to other OO-ers to join him.  Just go to Yahoo's fantasy football page, and choose to join a Private League.  The ID# is 370407, and the password is "assclown." 

     
  • That's all from me today.  See you again on Monday!

E-MAIL RICK SCAIA
BROWSE THE OO ARCHIVES

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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