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ONLINE ONSLAUGHT
More on Crash, RAW Heads for Home,
TNA Stuff, And Other Monday News
November 11, 2003

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com

 

Well, contrary by my bold predictions of last week, I return home from the weekend WITH the anticipated wicked hangover, but WITHOUT any trophies or having actually accomplished anything noteworthy at all, come to think of it.  Oh well, at least I drank my face off and had a good time.

And the good times REALLY start rolling tonight.  Dayton Flyer basketball, even in exhibition form, will take precedence over rasslin'...  for there are important questions to answer this season, and tonight we might get some clues as to how things will resolve.  Is Coach Gregory's fiery disposition going to mesh well with a team that thrived last year under the now-departed and always demure Oliver Purnell?  Will there be sufficient bench depth to assure that four returning starters will still be fresh enough to finish out ball games against tough foes?  Is Monty Scott really the Second Coming?  And: Will I, Rick Scaia, be able to work up an adequate hatred for tonight's opposition, given that they represent "Coaches vs. Cancer" and that I'm not exactly a big enough douchebag to come out in support of cancer?

All these answers and more over the next five months.  But for now, here's some wrestling news:

  • With three more days passing, there is surprisingly little more light being shed on the death of Michael "Crash Holly" Lockwood...  if anything, the circumstances of his death are even more shrouded in mystery following a weekend of newspaper articles and quotes from those who knew Crash best.
     
    To wit:  one of the fairly important factoids that my rush job of a tribute on Friday omitted is that Crash was survived by a wife and a daughter.  Actually, he and his wife, Christeena, had been separated since July (shortly after Crash parted with WWE), though they remained on good terms.  This is why Crash was away from his North Carolina home and living with Steven Richards in Florida at the time of his death.
     
    Crash also had a daughter from a previous relationship; she's seven years old and lives in California with her mother.
     
    Crash's estranged wife was interviewed for a story that appeared in the Saturday edition of the Salisbury (NC) Post. Among her comments was a claim that internet reports about Crash's death (which seem to focus on the "choked on his own vomit" angle) were inaccurate.  However, in the same breath, she refused to present any other information because she "[doesn't] want to say how he died because I'm afraid people will look at him negatively."
     
    I'm not exactly sure that "choking on own vomit" is a venerable way to go, and for my part, would probably just appreciate a little slice of the truth so that the wild speculation can be stopped now...  but for now, I guess we're stuck with another layer of mystery.
     
    And we're also stuck with all the arm-chair moralizing that seems to come with these all-too-often wrestling deaths, only magnified because Crash was all of 32 years old.  As depressing as it may seem to consider, I think wrestling fans are kind of desensitized to these early deaths, and almost take it in stride when personalities like Davey Boy Smith, Curt Hennig, Miss Elizabeth, and Hawk die in their 40s (all likely aided by present or past chemical abuses).  But 32?  Well, even we will work up some moral outrage when a wrestler aged 32 dies...
     
    A few newspaper articles/editorials have already appeared, insinuating a lack of institutional responsibility on the part of pro wrestling.  And in the interest of self-serving hype, I'll also mention that there is a very spirited (but intelligent and worthwhile) debate on this issue happening in the OO Forums.  I expect more of this sort of thing in coming weeks, especially if/when it is confirmed that drugs or alcohol contributed to Crash's death.
     
    For my part, my feelings and opinions have changed only marginally since I first had to explain (and then defend) them in the wake of Brian Pillman's death.  I am a staunch believer in personal accountability at all times and in all things.  I'm not so keen on blaming environment or circumstances for the actions a person takes.  Yes, those things can make it a bit tougher to make wise and responsible decisions, but at the end of the day, there still IS that decision to make.  Your environment and circumstances don't force you down a path, even if they may deceive you into thinking one path is easier than the other.  There's still a part of you that has to sit up and, "OK, decision time, what should I do?"...  and at that point, if you can't put mind over matter, well, I'm going to hold you (not your environment or your job or your employer) responsible for what you just did.
     
    For this reason, you can put me in the camp that says "Lay off Vince, WWE, and the rest of the wrestling industry, cuz they didn't kill Crash Holly."  Others will argue that it's Vince's job to do more drug testing, to facilitate more counseling/treatment, to quit "treating wrestlers like livestock" and improve their working conditions so that they aren't driven to drugs, and to do lord knows what else...  but I just don't see that as the point on the continuum where change is really needed.  If anything, the WWF policy of taking guys off the road and even trying to get them help seems plenty adequate to me: Crash Holly was released by WWE and ended up in a bad place not because WWE failed him.  Eddie Guerrero and William Regal are two guys who were released by WWE and ended up in very good places because they took responsibility and put themselves in good places.

    If I sound callous, I guess I'm sorry for that.  But I'll also note that for all my "personal accountability" talk, there has been a nominal change in my feelings since six years ago when we were saying all these things about Brian Pillman.  That change is a sense of personal frustration and confusion that wasn't there before...  I think the abuses of pro wrestlers are their business, yes, but as a fan, I think it can reasonably be my business to think some of these abuses are stupid.  And in the last six years, that's exactly the direction I've found myself going...
     
    It's not like there weren't early pro wrestling deaths before Brian Pillman, but his is the one that sort of marked a new era of awareness for fans.  Right at the cusp of the internet explosion and the "Attitude Era" of treating fans a bit differently, Pillman's death is about as far back as most fans today can think.  Myself included, in a way, because even though guys like Art Barr and Eddie Gilbert should be right up there with Pillman, Spicolli, and now Crash, they did what they did at a time when it was easier to sweep things under a rug and contain them to poorly-circulated dirtsheets.
     
    But now, with every fan aware of circumstances surrounding these early deaths, and with even the most mainstream of media looking to hop on board in an attempt to point some kind of finger at someone (see HBO's "Real Sports" from earlier this year, the one that cost Roddy Piper his WWE job because he spoke out on his belief that the industry should somehow be accountable), I get a different feeling when another one of these too-soon deaths happens.  The callous-but-pragmatic "Well, he made his bed, he's gotta lie in it," is harder to maintain.  A sense of anger and frustration seeps in; it's more like, "OK, he can do whatever he wants, and I gotta respect that, but goddamn, wasn't he paying attention for the past six years?"...
     
    That wrestlers are still making the decisions their making is baffling to me.  It's one thing to make bad decisions.  It's another to make bad decision with so much widely circulated evidence to tell you that your decisions are awful.  I know that a popular mantra among wrestlers is that we internet goofs should just shut up because until we're on the road or in a ring, we don't know what the hell we're talking about.  And a lot of times, I find that mantra to be an almost-laughably-obvious display of defensiveness and insecurity from a sub-culture that wants to convince us of its rocket-science-like complexity, but which is really more like a Wizard-of-Oz-like trick of smoke, mirrors, and psychology.  But this time... well, this time, the wrestlers and their "You don't know what you're talking about till you've lived in our shoes" win.  I don't get it.  
     
    Then again, I don't think I'd ever "get it," even if I was living in their shoes.  The decisions that give us stories like Curt Hennig's or Pitbull #2's or (more than likely, once all info is released) Crash Holly's are ones that would baffle me no matter what.   

  • A new bullet point by way of creating a clean break from my much-longer-than-I-intended ramblings... although there is one more Crash Holly thing I need to mention.
     
    Michael Lockwood's funeral will take place at 2pm on Wednesday at the Linn-Honeycutt Funeral Home in China Grove, NC.  A viewing will take place there Tuesday night starting at 6:30pm.
     
    You can get additional details, as well as more quotes and comments from Crash's wife, in this Salisbury Post article.
     
  • And also: lots of people wrote in over the weekend, disappointed that WWE has not included tributes to Crash on any of their weekend programming.  Some were a bit upset about this, suggesting that WWE did it on purpose to try to distance themselves from the tragedy due to its circumstances.
     
    Well, if that's what WWE was doing, I'd be upset, too.  They do need to remember their fallen soldier, shady circumstances or no.  But fact is, I don't think there's anything nefarious at work here.  WWE's weekend shows are edited and finalized by Friday, and there would have been very little, if any, time to include mentions of Crash's death.
     
    In fact, WWE house shows over the weekend did honor Crash with 10 bell salutes, so I don't think the Fed will be dodging anything here.  Look for some kind of appropriate tribute starting tonight with RAW.
     
  • On to more standard fare for a Monday...  looking at RAW.
     
    Tonight's show is the brand's last before the joint Survivor Series PPV, and that should mean more of an "icing on the cake" sort of show, with fewer shocks and twists.  This is a show that needs to focus on making pre-established PPV feuds/matches more interesting, not on pulling crazy swerves out of nowhere.
     
    To that end, a story that needs some help is that of Goldberg and Triple H.  HHH has been on all of 2 editions of RAW in the last 9 weeks.  Goldberg has spent that time dealing more with a random stream of bounty hunters than with worrying about giving a rematch to the guy he won the World Title from in September.
     
    That stream of bounty hunters, however, has supplied Goldberg with an important piece of business tonight: he'll face off against Batista, who ostensibly claimed the bounty even though he only really sidelined Goldberg for one week.  Goldberg demanded that match last week, and was granted the chance to avenge himself on Batista by Steve Austin.
     
    So doing a bit of simple arithmetic, I think we can all arrive in the same place: in facing Batista, Goldberg can expect a surprise appearance from another Evolution member, HHH.  Already nursing a "shattered ankle," Goldberg is being portrayed as an underdog against HHH at Survivor Series.  I expect they'll try to add to that vibe with HHH showing up tonight.  He's had two weeks to enjoy a honeymoon, but tonight, he's needed back at work...
     
    RAW's other marquee Survivor Series match doesn't need so much work tonight, because the past 3 weeks have been very interesting.  The Team Austin vs. Team Bischoff angle has brought together 2 teams of 5 guys, creating plenty of interwoven storylines that have played off each other nicely so far.  Chris Jericho as the lead man on Team Bischoff is, himself, involved in so many different things right now that it's easier to just say "Look for him in at least a half dozen different segments tonight" than it is to try to laundry list them.  He might reasonably have a beef with IC Champ Rob Van Dam.  He might ask Christian to join him for a shot at the Duds' tag belts.  He's even got plentiful history with Shawn Michaels.  And what the hell is going on with him and Trish, anyway?  It's beautiful.
     
    Jericho's partners are Scott Steiner, Christian, Randy Orton, and Mark Henry.  Team Austin is comprised of Rob Van Dam, Booker T, Shawn Michaels, and the Dudley Boyz.  Last week, Michaels beat Henry in their one-on-one match, but Team Bischoff still ruled the night: they caused the other four members of Team Austin to lose their outings.  Any combination of singles or tag matches (or promos/angles) between these 10 is possible tonight, and no matter what they run with, it oughta be pretty cool.
     
    Third on the depth chart for RAW going into the PPV is Shane McMahon vs. Kane.  All we know is that tonight, Kane has accepted Shane's invitation to do something.  And all we can hope for is that tonight, it's nothing too lame.  Just restrain yourselves, boys, and get us to the PPV, where you can have your killer brawl and (more than likely) do another vehicular stunt to put the capper on your alternately intense and cringe-worthy feud.
     
    What else?  Lita and Molly Holly are a fourth RAW brand offering for the PPV, and will cross paths again (house shows this weekend were test-running a Lita/Trish vs. Molly/Gail tag match with Victoria as a special ref, so that might make it to TV)....  the odd little love rhombus probably simmers for another week, too; in addition to Jericho/Trish, we've got this Lita/Christian thing brewing (though it seems like Christian is just being a dick here, which might be setting the stage for something with Matt Hardy when the two rosters mesh at Survivor Series)...  Team Green (Jindrak/Cade) need to do something tonight to cement a heel turn, as they might end up as the post-PPV challengers to the Dudleys if they do it right...  and I fear that despite my vocal warnings, John Heidenreich and Little Johnny will again be present to provide me with ample chances to go fix a sandwich or something.
     
    Check out RAW tonight, or come on back to OO tomorrow for full recap and analysis of the show...
     
  • Going back to last week, SmackDown! drew a 3.6 broadcast rating, the same as the week before, and another excellent showing for WWE and UPN up against stiff Sweeps Month competition.  In fact, SD! has been above 3.5 in four of the past five weeks.  Previous to that, SD! only inched above 3.5 in 2 weeks during the entire past four months.
     
    SD!'s going strong.  Good for them.  Last week, the show was also a really good one, and was rewarded with a win from OO Staffers in Battle of the Brands.  That ends a streak of 5 BotB losses for SD!...  RAW was competitive, though, and it was a close fight.  You can get the full ratings and analyses in the latest BotB.
     
  • Somehow, in all the worrying about Crash Holly and then not paying attention to wrestling for the past 3 days, a mini-controversy has developed... one that I did not know about.  One that only partially makes sense even now that I do.
     
    Here's the deal:  I guess a lot of TNA fans are pissy that Lex Luger is being brought in (to team with Jeff Jarrett against Sting and AJ Styles) on this week's show.  Something about how bringing Luger in is a slap in the face to the everyday (well, every week) TNA talent who have busted ass for over a year to get the company where it is.  They bust ass; Luger sits at home, does nothing, but gets to come in and main event his first TNA show.
     
    OK, so this sort of overly smark sentiment wells up, and then goes away, right?  Because it really is kind of stupid, despite its naive nobility.  But no, it catches enough momentum that I got a note about TNA's president responding to the criticism.  Something about how bringing in Luger isn't a slap in the face to existing talent or a flailing grab for buy rates.  No, somehow, it's all about Opportunity.  I'm not sure I could grasp it betwixt all the fluffery, but somehow, Luger's success or failure will not be measured by buyrates but by how the man makes use of This Opportunity.
     
    Whatever.  The controversy was a dubious one at best.  The company response makes it an even more pointless discussion.
     
    So of course, as is my custom, I'll pile on with more pointlessness.  If nothing else, I'd like to suggest more pertinent directions for both sides in this debate, so that I might actually be interested if this controversy continues.
     
    To the smarky defenders of Chris Sabin and Shark Boy: you could find a lot of other things to be upset about Re: Lex Luger.  Just stick to the fact that he's sucked in every wrestling match he's been in for nearly a decade, and I'd at least see where you're coming from.  You could even play the "Arrested on Drug Charges" card, if you REALLY wanted to be assholes, and you might find some more takers...
     
    And to TNA: either you're lying or you're stupid.  Of course, this is about buy rates.  You're in business to make money, not to Give Opportunity, and the press release to the contrary is simplistic fluff that insults the fans who cared enough to work up some quality indignation about your decision.  Just admit it, already.  And then, when you're done doing that, answer me my question: How does going after quick buy rate spikes now (with Luger and Sting and lord knows who else) play into your business plan to CONTINUE making money after the big Sunday night PPV is past and you're back to working without the big name guests?  Seems to me conditioning fans to expect big names so that they'll get interested in your full-price PPV is a sure fire way to mean they'll be less interested in business-as-usual afterwards?  In fact, is that sort of what killed off USWA/Memphis and SMW back in the mid-90s?  Too much reliance on WWF guest stars, and not enough making sure the regulars were popular with fans?
     
    OK, enough.  I said it was a stupid controversy and I meant it.  But it's still been ubiquitous enough over the weekend that I felt it had to be mentioned.
     
  • OO Reader "The GR81" was lucky enough to attend a show with a personal appearance by Bret Hart in Stockton, CA...  he noted that Bret was extremely gracious and accomodating, but also said something else that I think is one part comforting and about three parts disappointing.  He wrote: "I think the most important part of all of this was that I wanted to see Bret for myself to determine whether he would ever be able to wrestle again and the answer is no! It is obvious that the stroke combined with his age has taken an awful toll on his body. I would never want to see Bret in the ring against Kurt Angle like this. It served as sort of a peace of mind that I know to never expect to see Bret in the ring again."
     
    For me, that "peace of mind" thing is what struck me and made me want to include this item...  selfishly, I've felt like I'm being mocked and teased each time Bret or Kurt Angle mention how they'd love it if they could face off in a one-time match, but that it can never happen because of Bret's condition.  Like they know something that I don't, like it's part of a slow-building wrestling angle...

    GR81's e-mail, however, let's me jettison that sensation, and view Bret and Kurt's comments in the proper light: they are wistful fantasies, a vision of what could (and maybe should) have been, but which won't come to pass.
     
  • And with that, I think we've covered just about enough ground for this Monday.  I've got an exhibition basketball game to get ready for, and then a recording of RAW to enjoy afterwards.  Busy night, and I want to hop to it...
     
    See you for RAW Recap tomorrow, and then a regular column on Wednesday.  Remember: only a few more days till the OO Pledge Drive is over.  Donate now, or risk being one of the 99% of OO Readers who I secretly loathe!

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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