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RAW, Tyson/Sapp, Edge, X-Pac/Chyna,
OVW, UPN/SmackDown!, and More...
August 18, 2003

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


Note to self: how old do I have to get before I realize that thing about always eating a meal BEFORE you start drinking isn't just a stupid old wives' tale?  That snacking on chips and cupcakes in between sucking down a half bottle of whiskey is no way to conduct business?  Sure, blowing through a Waffle House meal at 2am, well after the damage has been done, can help speed a return to borderline functionality... but it's a situation that should never arise if you follow a simple piece of advice.

"Eat before you drink."  Words that are as true today as they were when Paul F. Thompkins used them as his mantra in an HBO comedy special.  By 10pm last night, I was still lethargic enough that I wound up sitting through the entirety of the "New Man Show."  Swear to god, that ended up doing at least as much damage to my brain as the aforementioned whiskey.  Way to keep the crass and lose the clever, dudes!  Way to make Kimmel's ABC show seem smooth and subtle by comparison!  Way to... I don't know.... is "suck" too strong a word at this early juncture?

I'll let you ponder that while I finally move us on to the wrestling news at this distressingly late juncture:

  • I'm sort of grappling with how to get this week off to a big, hot start.
    Is this the countdown to the SECOND BIGGEST PPV OF THE YEAR?
    Or, perhaps, an exciting, unexplored territory as we gear up for THE FIRST JOINT PPV OF THE BRAND-SPECIFIC PPV ERA?
    And I could always keep it simple by just pointing out that tonight on RAW -- regardless of what's coming up on Sunday -- we've got TWO PPV CALIBER MATCHES, BABY!  Well, maybe only 1 PPV caliber match as far as I'd be concerned... and even then, I'd question just how many of the rest of you would P for that V, but that's neither here nor there...
    I say Kevin Nash vs. Chris Jericho in a hair vs. hair match is ready for PPV, though, and I think that for all the internet's twisted pleasure in making fun of Nash, this is a match in which he can successfully deliver.  And not just because Jericho is a strong performer who can help carry the match, but also because Jericho's a good fit for helping to bring out what remains of Nash's strengths.  As a smaller bump machine, he can make Nash's offense look credible; but as a diabolical and over heel, he can cheat his way to long stretches of offense himself.  Nash vs. Michaels was a recipe for success seven years ago, and this could be much the same formula.
    The hair vs. hair stipulation is a little extra gravy, too.  Somebody is gonna lose a luxuriant mane tonight, and that's a nice little sidebar.  But perhaps the more important side issue is the fact that, in addition to their one-on-one feud, Nash and Jericho are also plugged into a six-way feud for the World Title.  Jericho's lingering feud (and Nash's on-going friendship) with Shawn Michaels might be the gateway for a wild schmozz, in which Michaels begets Randy Orton, who begets Triple H, who finally begets Goldberg.  I'd still prefer to see the Nash/Jericho match end more towards the clean/decisive end of the continuum, but I'd also be shocked if we didn't end up with all six of these men in the same ring at some point tonight.  Perhaps after the match has concluded... but perhaps playing a role in its finish.
    The key, I think, to the show will be apologizing to all the underneath personalities and just unabashedly focusing on those stories and talents who will be featured at SummerSlam.  Take the time earlier in the show to not just lay more foundation for the six-way Elimination Chamber match, but also to let Jericho talk about the hair vs. hair match.  Don't restrict the hype for the match to graphics and vague mentions by JR and the King about how this is like a PPV match for free; use vignettes and promos to build it up.  And if that means Rodney Mack/Nowinski vs. Hurricane/S.H.I.T. must be limited to a 90 second skit instead of a match or in-ring angle so there's room for top guys getting a lot more time than usual, well, so be it.  Next Monday, we'll be clear from SummerSlam and looking to the underneath talents to fill up another RAW-only PPV card....  they can shine, then.
    The other "PPV caliber match" tonight is PPV caliber only because, well, it was actually featured on a PPV a couple month back.  Not that it set the world on fire or anything, but it's another case where a nice bit of storytelling combined with a compelling match stipulation has resulted in a match with major implications taking place on RAW rather than on a PPV.  Test and Scott Steiner, now about 3-4 months into their extended feud, will battle again tonight.  And for the second time in that span, the managerial services of Stacy Keibler will be on the line.
    I thought 2 months ago, or back whenever Steiner won Stacy from Test, that it was a misstep... that "forcing" Stacy to stay with Test, and going for a Macho Man/Liz 1986 vibe would be the perfect way to advance Test's burgeoning assholitude while also helping to make Stacy slightly more sympathetic as a character and slightly less one-dimensional and limited to being eye candy.  I had no way of knowing that Steiner and Stacy would work out that head-and-shoulder pump fake through the ropes that would become Steiner's most over move in years.... but I still think that Steiner can survive at basically the same level on his own, while Test will actually stand to benefit significantly if Stacy returns to his corner.  [An aside: months ago, Midajah started working out in California, with hopes of convincing WWE that she was ready to debut on RAW...  perhaps Steiner need not be long without the eye candy, afterall?  If that's a realistic option, then perhaps Stacy just outright screws Steiner tonight, and reveals she wanted to be with Test all along?  But now I'm getting WAY ahead of myself...]
    Test/Steiner, however, may be a headline item for tonight's show, but per my previous discussion, it really doesn't have a lot to do with Sunday's SummerSlam...  two interwoven feuds/matches, however, do.  Rob Van Dam vs. Kane and Eric Bischoff vs. Shane McMahon are the RAW brand's other two confirmed contributions to the PPV.
    The over-arcing storyline here actually seems to be Kane vs. Shane, as Shane made his return to TV to avenge his mother...  only to be sidetracked by Bischoff.  Meantime, Kane is backtracking to put the finishing touches on his old tag team partner, of whom he thought he had divested himself over a month ago.  Last week, they did a nice job separating the two feuds out, as Kane destroyed RVD, while Bischoff was involved in a Battle of Wits against Steve Austin that ended with him being forced into a rematch against Shane at SummerSlam.
    Shane -- who missed last week, selling an attack at the hands of Kane -- should be back this week, and won't necessarily have to use Austin as a proxy for building hostilities with Bischoff.  And Kane and RVD are both able bodied actual wrestlers, and should be in the building tonight to do SOMEthing to remind us that they hate each other.
    At present, RAW only has three matches planned for SummerSlam, whereas SD! is contributing four.  This could just be because the Elimination Chamber is likely to expand to fill a lot of time.  Or it could be that they just haven't decided what to do for a fourth match.  Booker T's injury and relinquishing of the IC Title to Christian almost certainly dented their plans in some way....
    You'll all probably string me up for saying this, but of RAW's secondary titles, I'd say that right now the one I'd prefer to see defended at SummerSlam would be the women's title.  It wouldn't necessarily be the best pure wrestling match of the three options, but it would be well worked... and unlike storylines in the IC and tag divisions, I think they might actually get a rise out of the crowd with a Molly/Trish (Gail/Victoria optional) match.  There are actually some interwoven feuds there, and things only stand to get more interesting with Jazz and Lita coming back in the next month or so.
    Meantime, the IC Title scene is in the midst of a complete reset.  Christian went from looking like early fodder for the resurrection of Rosey's career to IC Champ in one week; but he has no top contenders lined up.  And the tag scene?  Don't get me started again....  La Resistance, the one trick, cheap heat ponies, will have their showdown with the Dudleys, and it will be a foregone conclusion that the Duds will win.  Any other move is demonstrably wrong for myriad reasons.  I guess if maybe they set up a Tables Match stipulation tonight, I'd say that'd be PPV worthy.  Otherwise, man, they can't get this over with fast enough. [Tangent:  a few weeks ago, Jean Pierre-Laffite worked a dark match, and I joked that he should return as a member/manager of La Resistance?  In retrospect, I don't think I was joking.  La Resistance needs depth, some defining trait other than their Frenchness.  Pierre could supply some gritty, genuine evil, I think.  As well as additional Frenchness.  Can't have too much Frenchness!]
    Help for the tag division is probably a few weeks away, still.  Hurricane and the S.H.I.T ought to (as mentioned above) solidify their partnership first, likely in a feud against Mack/Nowinski (Teddy Long's return to TV should help facilitate this, be it this week or next).... and on the strength of last week's skit and nothing else, I'm ready to proclaim DustStorm a future pair of Tag Champs; another week or two of skits, then get them in the ring, and let the magic happen!
    RAW is live tonight.  You will watch because you have nothing else better to do.  And if you don't, you'll come back here for full results tomorrow.  Because *I* don't have anything better to do than to watch RAW tonight and then write a big long review of it, and I like to delude myself into thinking I'm no more pathetic in my use of free time than you all are.
  • As of this writing, I still haven't heard a final rating for last week's SmackDown!...  I know that the overnight came in at a 4.3, which is actually right about on par with the previous few week's overnight numbers.  Widespread black-outs do not appear to have affected this rating.
    However, I suspect the power outages have slowed the collection of final ratings data, and will result in the final number for SD! being a bit lower than recent averages.  New York City's UPN affiliate was completely knocked off the air, so even places in the region who had power would not have been able to see the show.  Cleveland, Detroit, and Buffalo were other NE markets affected in one way or another.  
    The outages also cost WWE last week's edition of "Byte This," which went off the air abruptly after just about 10 minutes on Thursday.  Post-production on weekend shows was also affected, and supposedly travel snarls kept Ernest Miller from flying in to do over-dubs for Velocity.
    The same travel problems are being used as the excuse for why Vince McMahon did not make SD! brand house show dates (as scheduled) over the weekend.  He was replaced by John Cena as the special ref in Angle/Show/Lesnar main events, and Cena's spot (against Undertaker) was in turn filled by A-Train.
  • Actually, Matt Hocking Saturation Week continued today with a SD house show report from Minneapolis.  Sounded like a really fun show, despite the juggled card.
    Matt is probably expecting you to worship him as a minor deity after he completes his fourth new column in eight days tomorrow (with a fresh RAW Satire).  Domain registration of HockingOnslaught.com is, I understand, still pending.
  • The Chyna/X-Pac situation that I mentioned briefly on Friday has taken another turn.  Following a story on "Celebrity Justice," and with a "Globe" article upcoming, Sean "X-Pac" Waltman made a public statement over the weekend.  He issued a missive to his SeanWaltman.com mailing list, and the document was helpfully posted to the OO Forums.
    As you might have expected, the tabloid press did not necessarily get the story exactly right, and Waltman set about sorting the truths out from the mess.  Along the way, he seems genuine about his feelings for Joanie (Chyna) and honest about his own shortcomings.  The feeling I was left with was not so much of one party or another being to blame as it was a sense of melancholy and a hope that these two people -- be they wrestling personalities or not -- can get their stuff together and actually settle this in a healthy, productive way.
    If you want to follow this soap opera, the link is there above for you.  Again, I reiterate that this is not necessarily the part of the "insider" news that I much care to rehash at length...   and so I'll let the issue go again.  For now.
  • So last week, I finally got on the Bob Sapp bandwagon...  I may not be up front, riding shotgun, and giving Bob a road hummer like other Wrestling Journalists have been doing for much of the past year.  But after watching the guy talk and command a room on Leno, and combining that with what I'd seen of his straight-foward brawling style inside the ring, I definitely came around and started seeing dollar signs.
    Folks at K-1 and ESPN are apparently seeing the same things.  On Friday night, the K-1 PPV produced in part by ESPN concluded with a major, pro-wrestling-style angle in which Sapp -- having just defeated Kimo -- went face-to-face with Mike Tyson -- who jumped the rail to "congratulate" Sapp, but wound up in a confrontation, instead.
    Those who saw the PPV and mailed in about it categorized it as a pretty surprising and effective gimmick.  It was pretty clearly a staged confrontation, but Sapp (who had a tougher time beating Kimo than I guess he was supposed to) still held up his end even after a tough fight.  Tyson, of course, is convincingly psycho at all times.  The showdown devolved into typical smacktalk, with both guys laying out variants of "any time, any place." 
    As it stands, the place is likely to be Japan, where Sapp is a mega-star, and where they could fill up a dome at outlandish ticket prices for such a fight.  The PPV should even do big business here in the US, where Tyson remains a draw, and might even be more so in a situation like this: the fight should be a shoot (under some kind of compromise rules), but the theatrics of the pre-match hype would be a strength of Mike's.
    I'm not hooked into the MMA world, so I don't know if there's been any rough discussion of a time table for this or not.  I'd suspect it'd be by year's end, though.  If that does big business, watch Vince McMahon forget all about Lennox Lewis and use either Sapp or Tyson for a cross-over shootfight...  that'd be fascinating to see.
  • Over the weekend, there was an item on the entertainment wire about UPN's upcoming fall season.  While the overall gist of the article was about UPN trying to tighten up their programming to appeal to a core audience (as WB has done with teenage girls, so UPN wants to do with young adults), there was also an undertone of doomsday prognostication.
    UPN has lost into the BILLIONS of dollars since going active in the mid 90s.  Paramount's fumbling of the "Star Trek" franchise has hamstrung what was once considered the staple program of the network. (How to building interest in UPN?  According to this article, turn the Vulcan chick into a slut!  Which on one hand is a kinda appealing idea...  but on the other goes against every shred of established back story that helped turn "Star Trek" from a 60s TV series into a "franchise" to begin with...).  And SmackDown!, which has been UPN's staple show for most of its run, has been seeing ratings declines in recent years, too.
    So, the article suggests, this might be a do-or-die year for UPN.  If the network doesn't turn it around, Viacom (which is already doing the young male demo targeting with SpikeTV) might just cut UPN loose.  And that, my friends, would have a major impact on WWE's operations.
    Something to keep an eye on.  Unless you want SD! to end up Thursday nights on SpikeTV, you'd better start cheering for "The Mullets" to kick some ass right now.
  • Rumors of the demise of Ohio Valley Wrestling have been greatly exaggerated.  Jim Cornette has publicly railed another website/newsletter for its portrayal of OVW as nearing the end of its relationship with WWE due to a philosophical change at WWE HQ.  And WWE.com has just published a lengthy article chronicling OVW's 10 year anniversary (including 4 years as a WWE proving ground), and which seemingly takes the tone that OVW will continue to play an important role in developing talent for WWE for a long time to come.
    I will not turn this into a he-said/he-said thing, but every indication I've gotten is that OVW is still on the most solid of grounding with WWE.  If there was confusion about that, it might be because WWE is still open to working with other mentors and territories when it comes to developing its talents.  Doors remain open for some talents to try other indie/international feds, or to work with other trainers (such as the Rock's dad, Rocky Johnson... or Ron Hutchinson in Toronto), as they hone their skills for eventual display on WWE TV. 
    Going through OVW is NOT a necessary stop on the path to RAW or SD!, as Orlando Jordan and Sylvain Grenier have most recently shown, but it should remain a regular one, nonetheless.
  • Dave Batista is apparently inside a month away from returning to action.  And judging by his comments during recent interviews, he expects to be plugged right back into Evolution when the time comes.  I guess a few quick location shoots, and they can change that entrance video to include four guys easily enough, eh?
    Man alive, they really are gonna make this as difficult as possible for Flair and HHH, aren't they?  They barely made a dent in terms of "making" Randy Orton, and they're gonna pile Batista back on?  Good luck guys...
  • Edge made a cameo appearance at a SD! brand show in Hamilton, ONT, this weekend.  It was just a quick in-ring promo, and he thanked the fans for all their support over the last few months.  He got a nice ovation, and fans responded very strongly when Edge regaled them with the tale of his WWF debut match happening in that very arena.  
    The kids today... they sure have learned their Mick Foley, haven't they?
  • I don't think this counts as a spoiler... but e-mail reports out of Detroit say that ads for tomorrow's SD! tapings are promising a Brock Lesnar vs. Zach Gowen match.  Possibly with Vince McMahon as the referee.  Whew.... if you thought what The Real Brock Lesnar did to Spanky was rude....
    Problem is, I can't see them really going full-out with that, since Gowen has to be well enough to face Matt Hardy at SummerSlam (that match HAS been officially added, FYI).  We'll see...
  • I think that's just about enough for today.  If you're at tapings this week, remember, you're encouraged to pass along a live report from those shows.  Otherwise I'll see you with a RAW recap tomorrow and the usual news and spoilers on Wednesday!  


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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