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Hogan/TNA Twist, RAW, Nash, Hawk,
And Sad, Pathetic Whining from The Rick
October 22, 2003

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


Some surprisingly big stuff to cover today...  so big, in fact, that I'm momentarily distracted from doing any sort of barely-relevant rambling about how engrossing the World Series has been so far.  Nip and tuck, 2 games to 1, and Rocket's last start ever tonight...  

That's good stuff.  But since you're probably not a Yankees fan, you'll probably like this better:

  • If you rented a big screen TV and had already made plans with a caterer to host a big bash for NWA-TNA's full-price "Bound for Glory" PPV event on November 30, well...  here's hoping you can still get your deposit back.
    The show looks to be in serious jeopardy with today's news that Hulk Hogan will opt for knee surgery next week.  Dave Meltzer reports that the surgery became necessary after Hogan's match in Japan two weeks ago, and will sideline him beyond November 30.
    At this point, I can offer no further insights into Hogan's condition or decision to go with knee surgery.  I know he has long complained of knee trouble, but has usually opted to work through the pain.  He did have surgery during his pre-WWF comeback hiatus that alleviated the worst of it, but more than likely he's dealing with the sort of pain that won't ever go away completely.  If he came out of a stiff match in Japan feeling significantly worse for wear, no one can begrudge him the option of relieving the pain surgically.
    But that said, TNA might not be happy to hear this news.  As we first talked about over 2 weeks ago, TNA's November 30 PPV clearance was predicated on Hogan's participation.  You'll remember that even as the wrestling side was talking about TNA's plans to do a full-price PPV began circulating, the cable side was still not committing to anything.  In fact, for a week after TNA had put the wheels in motion, inDemand PPV was still listing soccer games for that Sunday night time slot.  TNA would not close the deal on the PPV distribution contract without Hulk Hogan locked up.
    Well, they never quite locked Hogan up.  Verbal assurances were made, perhaps even handshake deals agreed upon...  it was on that basis that Jeff Jarrett and Hogan did an angle over in Japan that aired on last week's TNA show.  But indications are that Hogan never put ink to paper on a contract to appear in a match on 11/30.  This injury/impending surgery might provide the explanation for why those negotiations slowed to a halt before completion.
    On the wrestling side, TNA has made very few, if any, alterations to their website since the news broke last night; some direct ads for "Bound for Glory" may have been removed (I'm not a regular enough visitor to know for sure)... but a preview for tonight's weekly PPV (updated yesterday) still promises big news and developments with regard to Jarrett/Hogan and the PPV.
    On the cable side, I received another assurance today that if there is no Hogan, there is no TNA PPV on November 30.  TNA's Wednesday night numbers and business plan simply do not rate a Sunday night timeslot and $20-plus price tag, unless they significantly augment their product.  Hogan is a "must have" part of the equation, I guess.
    I know I may be stretching, but there may be good to come out of this set-back for TNA.  I know they had only just begun serious planning for the event, which means cancellation should have a very low price tag in terms of sunk costs.  The company hadn't even finalized a venue for the show, much less started in on advertising or things of that nature.
    The chance to, perhaps, have access to a healthier Hulk Hogan in early 2004 combined with a chance to do more than 6 weeks of promotion and hype just might result in a postponed major PPV event being more successful than a rush job on November 30 would have been.
    And if you don't want to take some nebulous long-term approach to finding a silver lining, how about the simple fact that now, tonight's TNA PPV is no longer a foregone conclusion?
    Headlined by AJ Styles defending the NWA Title against Jeff Jarrett, every sentient organism higher than "plankton" on the foodchain expected tonight's show to end with a predictable-but-necessary Jarrett title win.  Only that way would TNA get to the Jarrett/Hogan NWA Title Match that they desired for the 11/30 show.  Jarrett and Styles could have gone out there and busted their asses, but the Asylum crowd is a savvy one, and might not have gotten into it if they thought they knew with certitude who would win.
    Now, Styles and Jarrett have an iota of uncertainty.  It's not NECESSARY that Jarrett win tonight.  There's still a very good chance that he goes over: Styles hasn't lit the world on fire since winning the title, and Jarrett could use a title win to bolster and finalize his heel status.  But you don't KNOW FOR SURE that's what's gonna happen.  That's a minor victory.
    Also: even as TNA continues to promise big news about Hogan/Jarrett and the Sunday PPV, they could make use of Hogan's injury by allowing Jarrett to get credit for sidelining Hogan. Getting Jimmy Hart to make another phone-in appearance to say Jarrett's attack is responsible for Hogan's surgery would be all it takes.  Jarrett and TNA save some face, enough, hopefully, to cover for the fact that they will have to sheepishly and quietly sweep that promised November 30 PPV date under the rug.
    Finding out how TNA plays the Hogan/PPV situation is only a very small part of what I personally find intriguing about tonight's show.  In addition to the now-uncertain Styles/Jarrett main event, we'll be getting a Michael Shane vs. Fallen Angel vs. Chris Sabin X Title match that ought to rock many socks off.  On top of that: Danny Doring and Roadkill debuted last week, and this week get a title shot against Simon and Swinger (call it ECW Reunion Week), while Simon and Swinger's manager Glen Gilberti has arranged for a Mystery Team to face America's Most Wanted (if AMW wins, they get a tag title shot)....  Raven will take on Slash...  Kid Kash vs. Sonjay Dutt...  and Ekmo, Siaki, and Legend vs. Konnan, BG James, and Ron Killings.
    There oughta be 3 or 4 really good matches on tonight's show, plus the intrigue factor surrounding the Hogan/Jarrett/PPV situation.  If it were not for Game 4, trust me, this is a TNA show that I'd be fired up to watch (something that hasn't happened for me since August and September, as TNA was red hot leading up to their hiatus/one cent show).  I'll look to catch a replay before I read and post Damian's Recap, if I can...
  • Shifting gears to what I thought would be my main topic today....
    Monday's RAW was a really strong show.  Really strong.  Right on par with the previous week's, and possibly even tighter (despite not having that one really excellent wrestling match).  Seriously, the only part of the show I remember being less than impressed with was the lame half of Kane's in-ring promo.  You know the part: the overly long and vaguely sexual of retelling of the night Kane chokeslammed Linda McMahon.  I am not a psychic or a seer or anything, but I have this image in my head of Vince McMahon and Glen Jacobs sitting in an office on Monday... and Vince is supplying a little one-on-one coaching to Glen, "Remember, you're TURNED ON by manhandling my wife.  You have to growl and leer suggestively.  You can even say that 'no means yes' to suggest that accusations about your Katie-Vick-corpse-raping past might be true!  It'll be beautiful!  Our audiences LOVE IT when you let them know you're on the brink of a spine-rattling orgasm brought on by wholly inappropriate stimuli.  You should have SEEN the feedback after I played the Sexually Aroused Card back 2 years ago when I was killing the WWF!"
    It's not a happy image that I have in my head, but I'm so certain of the fundamental truth of it that I could not suppress a case of the giggles as Kane spiraled further and further away from anything vaguely constructive in his promo.  And giggles beats rolling the eyes and changing the channel, I guess.  And anyway, he saved it in the end.  He got back on track, and in the end, made the impending Survivor Series match against Shane sound like the big final blow-off that it needs to be.
    Beyond that, the flow of the show was so good, and each segment interesting enough that I was pretty well glued to the TV for the entire show.  No wandering attention (granted, no baseball game to wander to), just a constant vibe of "Alright, let's see what happens next."  RAW has once again found a groove in terms of providing soundly constructed Sports Entertainment storylines that make sense, but which are not quite predictable.  The hallmark of good episodic TV.  You want surprises, yes, but you want surprises that make you go, "Oh, I get it.  I should have seen that coming."  Not surprises that make you go, "Whhhaaaaaa???".
    Is Batista a big shock?  Not really.  But after hearing he was ready to return 3-4 weeks ago, nobody really mentioned him as a bounty hunter.  His appearance was a surprise, and his affiliation with Evolution renders it utterly sensible that he'd attack Goldberg.  It's a sensibility that would have been stretched if fantasy booking plans (like ones for Shawn Michaels or Booker T that I've seen in e-mail) had been played out.  Sure Batista delivered the Shittiest Spinebuster Ever in his attack on Goldberg, and sure the two aren't exactly gonna light up the box off with a PPV caliber feud.  But with a house show match or two to get used to each other, they'll be capable of a solid power-on-power match that should provide a nice drawing main event for a RAW between now and the time when HHH is back full time to claim HIS spot as Goldberg's next PPV challenger.
    The opening promo and subsequent fall-out was a fine example of telling a good story that wasn't exactly obvious, too.  Austin and Test were spot on during a confrontation that made perfect sense but that you'd have never predicted: another player in the "Austin's Abusing His Power" Sweepstakes is identified (which becomes important in coming weeks).  Not only does Test blame Austin for his broken foot, but is also upset that Austin's abusing his (Test's) "property" and can add to that list a flimsy physical provocation that ended with Test getting his ass whupped.  Cue Eric Bischoff, who proposes a Classic Five-on-Five Survivor Series match at, well, Survivor Series:  Bischoff's Five vs. Austin's Five.  If Austin wins, the Physical Provocation Act is gone.  If Bischoff wins, Austin's gone.  Already, Bischoff reveals he's got Chris Jericho and Scott Steiner on his team; Austin doesn't have anyone on his team yet, but still manages to close the segment with Stacy Keibler trying to drink beers but succeeding only in pouring most of them down her shirt, which puts him ahead of the game in my book.
    Later on, the five-on-five gimmick would play into Jericho and Steiner doing a fun backstage throw-away promo, as well as a tag match against Rob Van Dam and Lance Storm.  Are RVD and Lance on Austin's team?  Well, I'd guess RVD will be, at the very least.  The gimmick also played into Booker T's match against Randy Orton, when Booker revealed he wanted to be on Austin's team.  By the end of the night, we only "officially" had a 2-on-1 match going, with 7 more spots to fill.  But the speculation over those seven spots and the doors the creative team left open should make for some fun times.  Will Bischoff finish up with Christian and La Resistance?  Will Austin go with RVD, the Dudleys, and Lance Storm?  Or will Bischoff go with Christian, Randy Orton, and possibly Batista, while Austin then adds RVD, Shawn Michaels, and the Dudleys?  The chance to tie IC Title and Tag Title feuds into the 10-man match are unique, and leave many options open....
    Speaking of the Dudleys, their match against La Resistance was essentially nothing we hadn't seen before about a dozen times over the summer.  But in this context, it was a perfect and necessary showcase for the Duds.  The dedication of the match to Road Warrior Hawk and the win via the Doomsday Device were sweet touches.  The domination of the tag team scene in their respective eras by the Road Warriors and the Dudleys is no accident; the Duds were massively influenced by the Road Warriors, and they were the right guys to tip their caps to Hawk on this night.  I thought it was handled perfectly.
    Jericho/Steiner vs. Storm/RVD was probably my favorite match of the night.  Not as good as last week's 8-man, but really good, and deserving of mention.  On the Slightly Disappointing side, I guess I will mention that Maven/Ric Flair didn't quite scratch me where I itch.  Flair, even more so than usual, seemed to be a caricature of himself, more interested in doing as many chops in the five minute match than he was in actually making Maven look any good.  I mean, the match didn't suck or anything, but chop/"WHOO", chop/"WHOO" for five minutes didn't do Maven any favors: the fans were responding more to Flair than they did to him.  The finish was the right one, though, and should allow Maven and Ric to improve upon this showing down the line.
    The women's tag match was pretty solid, too, though in this case, I find myself intrigued by a tangential storyline more than by the match itself.  Christian's save of Lita after the match, combined with Jericho and Trish's even-the-pretty-people-get-flustered-sometimes-too backstage skit could turn out really well.  I mean, it could also turn out very badly if some jerk-ass decides that it's a perfect time to do a retarded "via satellite" Double Date skit (as inspired by Mark Henry and Chyna)...  but if they instead try to keep on "making it real," (as witnessed by Trish asking for and getting Jericho to drop the shtick and just be himself) the end result could be Jericho and Christian pulling a cruel swerve that should make both of them bigger heels.  Or it could end with Christian THINKING he was following Jericho's lead by swerving Lita, but Jericho's actually honestly smitten, and as a result Jericho DOES turn face after months of teasing... or it could end....  oh, you get the idea: again, the point is that what we got on Monday wasn't exactly predictable, but it was sensible, and it leaves the doors open for myriad interesting developments.
    Good show all around.  I'd say "read the recap," but I pulled a nasty swerve of my own in the recap, and it's probably not worth your time.  Here, you decide.
  • The rating for Monday's RAW was a 3.7.  That's up another one-tenth of a point from the week before.  This time, there was no baseball to attract viewers away from RAW, but there was a significantly more competitive Monday Night Football game on ABC.  In that light, the modest gain is probably about all WWE could have hoped for.
  • A recent WWE.com article paints Kevin Nash's neck condition as significantly more serious than previous reports.  It was last week that we talked about Nash scheduling neck surgery with Dr. Jho (the same guy who got Kurt Angle back in action way sooner than expected), and a likely Royal Rumble return date.
    Well, this week, the officially-sanctioned WWE story is that Nash's career is in jeopardy, and that his neck was called "worse that Steve Austin's" by one doctor.  Nash will have the surgery with Dr. Jho and see what happens there...  even if it turns out that he cannot get back to a 100% ring-ready condition, he wants to continue in the business in some capacity, and did suggest that he could be a bodyguard/manager type (which is how he started as "Diesel").
    It's worth noting that Nash's original WWE deal signed when the NWO return in February 2002 expires this February.  At this point, there are no indications that renewal talks have taken place nor even what either side would look for in an extension.  WWE would obviously expect Nash to take a significant pay-cut, especially if his condition limits him to a mostly non-wrestling role.  Who knows if Nash would be willing to take such a deal when he could sit at home and relax and live off the money he's already made?
  • Funeral services for Michael "Hawk" Hegstrand will take place next Tuesday, October 28, at the Seminole United Methodist Church in Seminole, FL.  The services begin at 2pm, and are open to the public.
    Plans are also underway to have a secondary service for Hawk up in his native Minnesota.  Details on that will be forthcoming.  And organizers in Michigan are putting together a Tribute/Benefit Show for Hawk: an indy show already scheduled for November 1 in Birch Run, MI, will now feature Road Warrior Animal making an appearance, and there are hopes to include Hawk's wife/family in some capacity. Further plans/details about that show will be included here as they become available.
  • Correcting two items from my Hawk Tribute from Monday...
    The Road Warriors were, in fact, 2 time WWF Tag Team Champions.  A very brief second reign came in the autumn of 1997; Hawk and Animal were sort of "transition champs" as the WWF moved the titles off the heel Godwinns, through the LOD, and onto the just-created heel duo of the New Age Outlaws.  I'm sorry I forgot about that.  I was, however, correct about the Roadies only having one NWA and AWA tag title reign each.  It remains remarkable (in my opinion) that as influential and as important as the Road Warriors were that they were only rarely given the gold.  
    A theory, if I may: the Roadies were, well before I ever used the phrase, "Division Killers."  Perhaps promoters 10 and 15 years ago realized that fans would not accept very many teams competing realistically against Hawk and Animal, and thus, had to keep the titles away from them in most cases.  Just a thought.  Please, if you have one of your own, supply it.
    My second correction:  Hawk did NOT have a WCW Tag Title reign with Sting in '93-4.  The two DID win a match against tag champs, the Nasty Boys, at Starrcade '93...  I remembered that much.  What I forgot was that the win came via DQ and the titles didn't change hands.  My bad.
  • WWE is going to be scrapping the idea of a "smart" magazine and a "mark" magazine starting next month.  The long-running "WWF/E Magazine," which has been published since 1984 (I think my collection starts with the May/June '86 edition... which is how I got my WM2 results back in the day) is going bye-bye.
    In its place will be "SmackDown! Magazine."  The move will allow "RAW Magazine," which has been published since 1996, to finally stop pretending that it's significantly smarter or more "insider" than it's companion publication.  Both mags will instead focus exclusively on their titular brands, and will feature the same sort of frustrating "New Work" content that started permeating RAW Mag a few years ago and which finally rendered it a fully disposable publication last year.
    Oh well...  not that I want to get off on a rant, here.  I realize the Fed's in the business of making money, not in the business of being honest with the 5 percent of fans who are actually interested in and intelligent with regard to how the business works.  May the new magazines live a long and profitable life!
  • Remember my little SmackDown! tangent from Monday about the show taking advantage of its schedule (no SD! only PPV till February) to rebuild the undercard?  Well, the brand certainly shook things up at tapings yesterday.  A new GM and other wackiness.
    You can get the full details over in the Spoilers.
  • Speaking of UPN programs, it looks like the network has pulled the plug on "The Mullets," a sitcom they had hoped would capture a sizable portion of SmackDown's audience.  The show debuted on a Thursday night, benefiting from SD!'s lead-in and a guest appearance by the Dudleys.
    But after moving to Tuesdays, the show -- even with continued wrestling references and a guest spot by Roddy Piper -- became one of the lowest rated shows on all of TV.  I think about 5 or 6 episodes aired, and production will continue until the show finishes 13 of 'em.  However, when or if they'll air is unknown.  The show did not air this week, and all 7-8 episodes may be held back as midseason or summer fodder, if they air at all.   UPN may feel they can get better ratings with second run episodes of more successful shows.
    And so another network learns that trying to use WWE's audience to build interest in other shows is bound to fail.  Unlike most of USA's braindead attempts, I'm almost sorry to see this one tank.  After I took in the less-than-uproarious debut, I saw two more recent episodes of "The Mullets" and caught myself enjoying them.  Possibly because they had more of that convenience store girl in them, but I don't think that was the only reason.
    Oh, and to make this bullet point even LESS pertinent to anything you care about: if you simply must have your Denny Mullet fix, I've heard from readers and message boarders that he's actually one of the dudes on "Joe Schmoe," the TNN attempt at a twisted reality show.  So there.
  • Finally:  blatant, outright panhandling!  
    I should have done this Monday, but my attention was on other matters, including the big Hawk tribute...  but it turns out we've just celebrated a rather auspicious anniversary: the shut down of "WrestleLine" and subsequent homelessness of The Rick.  That happened back on October 18, 2001.
    Of course, the story has a happy ending, and OnlineOnslaught.com was up and running by December 1, 2001.  But to get things started, I asked for, and got, help from you fine readers.  And now the annual tradition continues with the OO Pledge Drive.
    Remember, I'm like PBS, except with swearing and steel chairs instead of British accents and illuminating documentaries.  OK, so I'm nothing like PBS.  The only thing we have in common is that we are Viewer Supported.  So as I build the coffers back up so that I can do this for another year without adding even more advertising to the point that you can't tell where the real content starts, and without starting a newsletter or a VIP members area (and without having to give up my crushingly expensive whiskey hobby), please consider dropping a few bucks in the basket.  Amazon, PayPal, and US Mail options are all available.
    Thanks in advance for your consideration, and remember: you only have a few weeks before I stop pestering you, so act TODAY!
    See you Friday....    


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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