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RAW, Lesnar, Bret News, Confidential,
and a Very Important Follow-Up Story!
September 15, 2003

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


You know something?  I don't even really give a flying frick about college football...  but I've now been completely riveted to my TV set for three out of Ohio State's last four games going back nine months.  The Buckeyes: making Saturdays fun even if you don't really care who wins!

And now, for an even more amazing stunt... making Mondays fun for those of you who've stopped caring about RAW:

  • The RAW brand is now less than a week away from their second attempt at a brand-specific PPV.  The PPV card, reflective of the Monday night shows themselves, is pretty much a hit-and-miss proposition.  The job tonight: increase the "hit," and try to lose the "miss."
    Issue the first will be Goldberg and Triple H.  Looking back, this has actually been a fairly well-handled feud; it's the longest sustained proper use of Goldberg since his WWE arrival, at any rate.  When the storyline called for it, he was an absolutely monster, capable of taking out all of Evolution (plus Shawn Michaels and Chris Jericho, for good measure) by himself.  And when the time was right, a numbers game or a sledgehammer to the head rendered him just vulnerable enough to evoke some sympathy.  The only way I'd have played it much different: reduce Goldberg's speaking parts even further.  Either that, or hire a speech specialist to try to teach the poor guy the appropriate use of the word "ass."  But that's a minor point.
    It's now been coming up on two months since a one-on-one match between Goldberg and HHH for HHH's World Title was announced.  It was delayed due to HHH's real-life injury and replaced by last month's Elimination Chamber.  En route to stretching out the storyline for the extra month, Goldberg has been winning the majority of the minor skirmishes.  That ended last Monday night, when Evolution got together to leave Goldberg in a puddle of his own blood.  It's not a hard and fast rule, but generally speaking, a heel should get the last laugh in heading into a major PPV match...  especially if he's going to lose (as just about everyone suspects HHH will).  Don't be shocked if it's another successful night for HHH, his bees, and his teleporting hookers.  PEDIGREE TO ORTON!!!!
    Wait a minute, which column is this again?  Oh yeah...
    Issue the second: Kane and Shane McMahon.  A moment of complete honesty from Yours Truly: we're getting up close to the point where I'm really hard-pressed to be upset about about how absolutely awful the skits and angles done with Kane over the last 2 months have been.  There is too much solid evidence to support the idea that, regardless of the shoddy build-up, Kane and Shane (no armed with a no DQ stip) will have a kick-ass Sports Entertainment Segment on Sunday.  We are getting to the point where the End is in sight, and I'm already working on figuring out the justifying the means part.  Here's all I ask for: let's just get through tonight without any rampant stupidity.  And then if the gods are smiling on Sunday night and we get something along the lines of the wicked-awesome Shane/Angle brawl from 2001, I have a feeling we'll all be pretty happy. 
    Issue the non-existent: what the hell will happen with the IC Title?  Related question: is Chris Jericho a face or a heel?  Seems to me the best use of all the associated players would be to have another top-notch Jericho/Austin/Christian face-to-face(-to-face) tonight, and work it so that it's Jericho vs. Christian for the IC belt at the PPV.  With Booker T scheduled to come back in about 3 weeks, there might be a bit of hesitation at taking Jericho and essentially giving him Booker's spot as the upper-mid-card/secondary-title babyface...  which is the only reason I could think of to argue against setting Jericho's full-fledged face turn in motion with an IC Title feud.  I'm not sure how the Fed will play this, and even worse, I'm not even sure I know my own self what I'd LIKE to see happen.  But you see, a touch of uncertainty can actually be a lot of fun, especially when you have confidence in the main players (in this case, Jericho and Christian and probably Austin) to pull it off.  
    Issue the ubiquitous: the Announcer Fight.  OK, so it's no secret that the tide has turned among many fans and that Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler aren't exactly winning popularity contests.  But are Al Snow and Jonathan Coachman the answer?  Probably not.  Their four-man segment last week took the ratings steam right out of RAW, and left the show unable to build back the audience to the pre-Announcer Fight levels.  It might be very true that fans wouldn't miss JR and the King for a second (well, not so much JR, but you know what I mean), but seeing that ratings data makes it equally clear that fans also don't think Coach and Al are the right subs, or possibly that they don't think this is the sort of thing that needs to be eating up tons of time on RAW.  Tonight, hopefully they address this feud in a way that moves it forward, but which does not expose it as the farce that it is.  In other words: if there is wrestling/brawling to be done, let Al and King handle that.  Coach and JR can handle the verbal part, thank you very little.
    A couple other things:  Shawn Michaels vs. Randy Orton will be a match at the PPV, but in terms of the feud itself, it's been more a counter-point to other storylines (involving HHH/Goldberg, and briefly, Maven).  That one needs some stank on it, and it needs it tonight....  the tag title situation, in a perfect world, would get a virtual reset this weekend at the PPV.  And it still might.  After announcing a six-man Dudleys vs. La Resistance tag match for the PPV, WWE hedged a bit over the weekend, saying that Spike's sick bump from last Monday might mean they turn it into a 2-on-2 tag title match.  Here's hoping....  the women's division story is simple: champion Molly and henchbabe Gail Kim want to be rid of Trish Stratus for ever, and have been beating Trish and whatever poor sap agrees to team with her.  Jackie and Ivory were both zeros as Trish's partners, so it might finally be time to make good on the twist we've been talking about here for about a month now: Lita's return.  If I had a guess, I'd say Gail convinced Bischoff to give her and Molly a handicap match tonight on RAW, and that it'll be Lita who makes a save, setting up a tag match for the PPV....  and lastly, try as I might to ignore it, the ready-for-PPV category has one more entrant:  the Test/Scott Steiner feud that will not die.  Going on its fifth month, the last twist is that Test apparently has a bi-sexual streak or something, because he wants to make Steiner his bitch.  Well, not really, but you wouldn't know that from having heard the promo they did to set up their latest PPV match back on last Monday night.
    Check out RAW tonight to see if WWE can make it two good RAWs in a row heading into the PPV... or come on back to OO on Tuesday, and I'll tell your lazy ass whether they pulled it off or not in the RAW Recap.
  • Before I forget to mention it: last week's final SmackDown! rating was a 3.5, which is exactly the same as the week before (whereas RAW dropped over half-a-point).  In general SD!'s ratings seem to be fairly stable when there aren't things like black-outs and widespread pre-emptions....
    The 3.5 means SD! was the more-watched WWE brand last week according to Mr. Neilsen (besting RAW's adjusted-to-broadcast rating of 3.0).  But who cares about Mr. Nielsen?
    SD! also received a 3.5 rating from the OO Experts; and though RAW improved significantly last week, it fell just a bit short of toppling SD!, and earned a OO Rating of 3.4.  You can get the full breakdown in the latest OO Battle of the Brands.
  • Some mention-worthy developments at house shows over the weekend...  first, the SD! brand.
    Sunday night's show in Virginia was headlined by an over half-hour-long Brock Lesnar vs. Kurt Angle match.  The two were tearing down the house and were clearly getting themselves ready for Tuesday night's Iron Man Match taping.  However, live reports are that Lesnar appeared to pull up lame either in the closing stages of the match or immediately after the finish.
    Trainers and officials seemed to be concerned about a knee injury, and wound up helping Lesnar to the back.  There's no definitive word on what went wrong, but I do know for a fact that Lesnar was moving around fine backstage after the show (he left the building under his own power, and there was no trip to any hospital or anything), and that there wasn't a whole lot of concern about him being unable to perform for an hour on Tuesday.
  • And RAW's odd news from the weekend:  with Shawn Michaels and Goldberg's light work schedule, with RVD tied up with Kane, with Kevin Nash out playing actor, with Booker T home hurt, and with nobody being quite sure what Chris Jericho's doing these days, the RAW house shows this weekend were a bit lacking in the babyface headliner department.
    Well, lucky for them, they were passing through Ric Flair's old stomping grounds... and for a couple of nights, Flair was a huge fan favorite in matches against his Evolution cohorts.  It didn't take a whole lot: some name-dropping here, four fingers there, and a dash or two of Arn Anderson for good measure.  Sadly, Flair was also the patsy at the end of the night: getting pinned in both a three-way HHH vs. Orton vs. Flair match (Saturday night... and yes, folks, there was a PEDIGREE TO ORTON!) and also in a one-on-one match against HHH (Sunday night).  Also: most reports indicate HHH looked better/healthier in the ring than he has since his injury.  Still, he was only working semi-main events (and in tag settings and with a ton of extra-curriculars even in the one-on-one Flair match), so he was not put to any serious test, either...
    Oddly, Goldberg did make a Thursday night RAW house show, and teamed with Maven against HHH/Orton.  The usual practice for a talent who works limited house show dates is to have him hit the big weekend show.  Not only do they usually book bigger cities/venues on weekends, but it's also less of a hassle, logistically, if you have Goldberg jump in on the Sunday show and then just tag along to RAW (rather than fly him in for Thursday, then back out, then back in again on Monday for RAW).  
  • Goldberg will have an excuse not to hit a few RAW brand shows in late October...  per his contract with Zero-One (in Japan), Goldberg will work an event there on October 25.  I believe after this match (against a to-be-determined opponent), Goldberg is still committed to four more matches for the group.
    There is some confusion/curiosity over what this might mean to Goldberg as RAW's "World Champion."  In short, it doesn't really mean anything.  WWE knew of Goldberg's remaining Zero-One commitments when they signed him, and doesn't have a problem with that.  The company wouldn't keep the belt off Goldberg just because of his overseas schedule, nor is it likely that Goldberg's status as World Champ on 10/25 will have any affect on his Zero-One match (read, "he wasn't going to lose, anyway, so what's the big deal?").
  • Some Bret Hart news for y'all:
    OO Reader "GS" wrote in to fill me in on Bret's latest bit of work: he's providing the voice of "The Hooded Fang" in a new animated series called "Jacob Two-Two."  Bret's character is a recurring villain in the series (which is based on a children's book)... it debuted last weekend on Canada's YTV, and airs every Sunday morning at 11:30am.
    GS also mentioned that in lieu of "The Mullets," Canadian viewers got SummerSlam's Angle/Lesnar match in its entirety to flesh SD! out to 2 hours last week.  I knew that, but I guess I forgot to mention it last week.
  • Bret Hart also popped up in another odd place: during a Kurt Angle speech on the campus of West Chester (PA) University.  Angle referred to Bret as his Dream Opponent, and didn't rule out the possibility that he and Bret might, somehow, somewhere, face each other.
    Other items of note according to one e-mail report: Angle revealed that he expects to be teaming with John Cena by year's end.... and also mentioned that the original plan for SummerSlam was for Lesnar to win the title, but that Lesnar himself requested the change, thinking that losing would more effectively further his heel turn.
  • Bret Hart is the human segue today, because I can also mention that he was included (for the second week in a row) on this weekend's Confidential.
    In fact, the "From the Vault" match this week even faked me out, and I KNOW I've seen it before (hell, it's probably still on a tape back at my mom's house).  It was a tag title match: Hart Foundation (champs) taking on the British Bulldogs, best of 3 falls, from a Saturday Night's Main Event just after WM3.  Long story short: it wasn't necessarily the best, most awesomest match these two teams ever had, but it was really good, even in clip form, and we pretty soon had things tied up at one fall each.  In my head, I know the Bulldogs never got a second tag title reign, so I'm just sitting on my couch waiting for the Harts (probably aided by that dastardly Danny Davis) to win the third fall.  And then, BAM!, Dynamite pinned Neidhart....  Whhhhaaaa?  Had my wrestling data banks failed me somehow? Nope.  A few seconds later, Jesse Ventura reminds us that the first fall was a DQ in favor of the Bulldogs, and therefore, the titles could not change hands.  Ah.
    Still, image how big of an ass I felt like being faked out by a 15 year old match.  I wish I could blame it on a wicked night of boozing or something, but I can't.  I came home on Saturday night after about as uneventful an evening as you can imagine, sporting the mildest, happiest, shiniest of buzzes, and had a grand total of one more beer as I first did a fast-forward buzz through that night's SNL to see if there was anything funny (note: there wasn't).  Then cued up the DVR for Confidential and enjoyed.  And got my sorry butt totally Dusty Finished in the process.  As I sit here re-telling my Tale of Extreme Embarrassment, I'm grappling with whether the moral is that (a) I suck, or that (b) that was a pretty cool finish, especially by 1987 standards.
    It was another overall good week for Confidential: more illuminating background information on Superstar Billy Graham's hiatus from the WWF in the early 80s, up through his hip surgery and comeback and then his dismissal...  that was easily the must-see part of the show.  Also there was a funny bit with Tazz and Josh Matthews, a piece on Michaels/RVD hanging out together in Australia that was your usual human interest fluff but with a few laughs through in, and then a little bit of Stacy Keibler tossed in at the very end because I guess "Confidential" is contractually obligated to include at least one diva segment, even if it is perfunctory and superfluous...

  • Ah, and speaking of superfluous diva inclusion:  it's is now time for Your Very Important Jaime Koeppe Naked News Update.
    To summarize: Jaime wins the WWE Diva Search, then Jaime is discovered to have done nude modeling under the name "Candice," then "Candice's" pictures are yanked from a website after I post a link and get you all worked up about it.
    Well, people, this is it:  two little birdies e-mailed me over the weekend, and both said the same thing...  head over to Yahoo!, find their Yahoo! Groups feature.  Then search for "jaimekoeppestripped," and sign up for that group.  All the pretty pictures are available for you to download.  
    End of issue.  Right?
  • Remember to check out Mick Foley on the Jimmy Kimmel show this week. Mick's the guest host every night this week.
  • Lastly, a quick batch of medical updates....
    First, WWE.com reports that Scotty 2 Hotty is now fully cleared to return to action after more than a year on the sidelines with neck surgery.  He's been working OVW for about a month now, and is just waiting till Creative comes up with a way to re-introduce him.  The assumption is that he'll go back to SD!, where he can get into the Cruiserweight mix.  
    WWE.com also updates Chris Nowinski's condition: basically, it's all up in the air.  He returned from a concussion too soon back in July, and after realizing he was still unfit to wrestle (with headaches and memory problems), has been slowly trying to get back to 100% since then.  There is no set timetable other than to wait till Nowinski has a few symptom-free weeks in a row, then maybe test him out in OVW for a bit to make sure everything is OK before putting him back on TV.
    Also not appearing on TV anytime soon:  Billy Gunn.  I guess he had some (minor) shoulder surgery late last week, and word going around is that he'll be laid up for about 2 months.  I do believe we can now label Billy's shoulder condition "chronic."
  • That should do it.  See you again with the RAW Recap 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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