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Survivor Series Preview, plus
Some Weekend News
November 14, 2003

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


There are actually a few news-y things to talk about today, so we'll dust off the old Column in Two Parts gimmick...  you'll get the newsbites, but you'll also get the only Survivor Series PPV preview on the web that is so good that it essentially renders the past month's worth of WWE TV worthless.

We Ride!

Part One: Weekend News

  • Last night's SmackDown! was...  instructive?  I'm not sure what word I want to use, but it was something.
    The material with Vince and the Undertaker was especially....  something.  Taker's thing in the graveyard was actually really good, I thought.  Vince's two segments were just inane.  But the net effect was that you definitely get the idea that they're foreshadowing (or at least, leaving the door open for) the return of the Dead Man version of the Undertaker.  Vince's talk of a "higher power" could also be foreshadowing of the outside interference that would help him to beat Taker to set up the transformation.  Vince's talk of soiling himself, however, was pure garbage that somebody should have edited out of the show.
    Speaking of editing out...  SD! was as instructive in what we DIDN'T see as what we did see.  A post-match F-U by John Cena on Chris Benoit was deep sixed at some point between Tuesday and Thursday nights.  I had thought that with Cena going face, a Benoit heel turn would be in order to placate the Third Law of the Conservation of Heelness.  The Angle/Benoit promo earlier in the show also seemed to hint that direction, as Benoit could have pushed Cena's buttons, gotten the F-U, and then also taken it out on Angle by turning at the PPV...  now, there's a bit more uncertainty there.
    FYI: the F-U on Benoit was apparently the subject of a mild controversy even the day of the tapings, because one faction was opposed to it on the grounds that it might cast Cena in a heelish light too soon after his face turn.  I guess that faction won out in the editing booth...
    If not for the stuff with Vince, I actually would have nothing but positive things to say about last night's show.  Even Nathan Jones looked good.  Even Bob Holly was mega-over.  Surely, the world is tilting off its axis, or something.
    It'll make for a close call when it comes time for Battle of the Brands this week.  Which, I can almost assure you, will probably end up being delayed till Monday.
    Full results from the show are over in Danny's SD! Recap.
  • Overnight rating for SD! is in, and it's a 4.2, which is solid, and should translate to another very strong mid-3's final rating once all is said and done.  SD! is really cruising right now...
  • Reprising an item from Wednesday: I mentioned that Kurt Angle got a thorough once-over earlier this week after the return of neck pains/numbness, and in my selfish rush to talk about how much it would suck if Kurt had to hang it up early due to a bad neck, I may have unintentionally glossed over the more important part of that newsbite.
    The fact is that Angle still went out and worked an 8 minute match against Nathan Jones at SD! tapings, is still scheduled for a full slate of house show dates, and is not expecting really bad news when test results come in next week.  My cautionary/pessimistic comments from Wednesday should not overshadow these things.
  • And if I may turn the tables and be unfairly OPTIMISTIC about something....
    A few readers sent along a link to University of Alabama campus newspaper article covering Mick Foley's recent visit and speech.  Betwixt items about Foley's writing and family, the topic of wrestling rears its head...  and Foley dropped hints that will only serve to fan the flames of speculation that most smarks have already been rambling about for months: that Mick could face HHH at WrestleMania XX.
    And more than that: that Mick would consider working a couple of big shows every year.
    Check out the full article right here.
  • It has happened again.  Ticketbastard has a WCW event listed, causing fans (at least, the ones who mail me) to get their collective panties all in a bunch.
    Here's the link to an event scheduled for Friday, December 31, 2004...  yes, over a year away.  It's listed as "Nitro New Year's Evil" and takes place at the Houston AstroDome.
    A cursory exam of the rest of the page pretty much tells the whole story.  An on sale date in November '99 is given, for instance, but tickets are, of course, not actually available.  I have no doubt that all this page is is a hiccup of some kind, and Ticketmaster's system is somehow regurgitating the "New Year's Evil" edition of Nitro (that, if memory serves, really did take place in Houston) back in either '98 or '99.
    Panties: Unbunch!
  • WWE.com has gotten a make-over...  I notice no major changes, but cosmetically, the site looks really slick, now.  
    Content-wise, the biggest thing I noticed was that they have put a lot more information/links on the front page (instead of just doing a splash page with only one or two articles linked), with a "headlines" section that seems to have completely replaced the "News/Headlines" page that you used to have to click through to get to.  In so far as I'm a WWE.com visitor, I guess I appreciate that they've removed one click from the process to get where I'd like to go.
  • And speaking of make-overs, the big rumor going around is that Nidia's disappearance due to Tajiri's "black mist" was in fact a cover for her to undergo a bit of elective cosmetic surgery.  And with that, it looks like I'll be able to quickly and easily isolate at least one year-in-review "quOOtable" where I really screwed the pooch.  It was not but three weeks ago when I joked that at least we could be confident that Nidia was not taking a "Shaniqua Leave."
    Seriously: Nidia needed new boobs?  I guess maybe she's adopting the "fullness/firmness" defense that Stephanie McMahon has used to justify her surgically-installed defining characteristic(s)...  but the girl was not hurting one iota in the chestiness department as far as my discerning eye could tell.  Shaniqua... her decision I endorse heartily: she didn't get greedy, just went out and got herself some new boobs that look RIGHT with the rest of her physique.  But Nidia upgrading? Well, let's wait till we see the results, I guess (I'm also guessing we won't have to wait much longer than Sunday).  But my instinct is to label this unnecessary in the extreme.
    And with that, we find another of the Rick's hidden skills: expert Breast Augmentation Consultant.  
  • And with that, we'd better move on to Part Two before I find another way to digress into pointless territory....

Part Two: Survivor Series Preview

For just the second time since the current phase of the Brand Split was instituted in May, both RAW and SmackDown! will join forces for a big pay-per-view event.  The joint nature should afford WWE with a chance to explore the unique opportunities that having both rosters available will present.

Already, some are expecting that Matt Hardy should somehow find himself mingling with RAW brand stars, as part of a storyline with Lita and/or Christian.  Could there be some kind of interplay between estranged brothers Kane and Undertaker?  All kinds of things are possible...

Let's try to outline the more plausible of those options as we run down the full as-announced card for the show.

Team Austin (Shawn Michaels, Rob Van Dam, Booker T, the Dudley Boyz) vs. Team Bischoff (Chris Jericho, Scott Steiner, Randy Orton, Christian, Mark Henry)

No doubt, this is the marquee match of the night.  It features the best combination of major storyline implications and potential for in-ring action.

This match will, at some level, fundamentally shake-up the management structure of RAW.  Either Steve Austin will be allowed to kick the asses of anyone he pleases as GM, or Eric Bischoff will regain the sole control over the GM office.  Austin put his team together with the goal of getting to return to acting like the "real" Stone Cold.  Bischoff put his together with the goal of ridding RAW of Austin forever.

Well, Bischoff's going to fail in his goal.  Even if his team wins, I think we can safely say that some loophole will allow Austin to return in another capacity down the line.  But that doesn't mean that we can't pretend for one night that the result of this match will somehow be binding.

Drawing up the flowchart to map out the rivalries that exist between the team members would be an arduous task, and one that seems a bit pointless given that the real important story here is the feud between Austin and Bischoff.  One thing that I will mention, however, is that Booker T was, just this past Monday, passed a note that read, "I Still Remember."  Who remembers?  And what do they remember?  And amidst all the other intertwined feuds here, will that person play a role in the outcome of this match?  Or is that a storyline on a slow burn, one that won't be fully explored until weeks from now?  Something to keep in mind...

What does bear mentioning is that every member of Team Austin is an extremely capable in-ring worker, and that Jericho and Christian are easily their equals on the heel side.  And Orton and Steiner should be more than capable of keeping up.  Once Mark Henry is evicted from this match, we should have nothing to great action in store for us.

My Prediction:  This one will come down to Jericho and Orton vs. one member of Team Austin.  I just sense that they'll want to tease us with Orton, as the "cocky cracka," getting under the skin of Jericho, possibly leading to a split, but possibly leading to nothing (since Jericho's plenty intent on getting rid of Austin, perhaps enough to put up with Orton).  Which member of Team Austin and where it plays from there, I'm less confident...  but since I gotta go on record, I'm gonna say that dissension between Orton and Jericho leads to their downfall.  And for shits and giggles, I'll just guess that Booker T is the Sole Survivor (but it could be RVD or Michaels, too... in fact, I like the storyline options with Michaels saving Austin's ass best of all, but I sense that the Fed is getting ready to put a lot of eggs in Booker's basket).

Undertaker vs. Vince McMahon (Buried Alive Match)

Sadly, there can be no doubt that this is SmackDown!'s lead match.  It's got the most story behind it, and even if the SD! 5-on-5 is loaded with the most top talent, that one simply doesn't have any real oomph behind it.
You could argue this one has 13 years of history.  Certainly both Vince and Taker have tried to encourage that thought in recent weeks.  Sunday will mark Taker's 13 anniversary in the WWF/E, 13 years spent under the tyranny of Vince McMahon.  But the open hostilities are a bit fresher, and date back a little over a month, when Vince made it his goal to make sure that Taker did not win the WWE Title from Brock Lesnar.  Vince succeeded in that.

However, when Taker won the right to name any match against any opponent one week later, he opted not for a title rematch, but instead to cut straight to the source of his frustration:  Vince McMahon.  And he asked for the Buried Alive stipulation.  

The two men have been kept apart since, and the build-up to Sunday's match has been purely verbal.  Vince first reacted with panic and fear, then with confidence that he'd been set upon this quest to quash the infidel Undertaker by a "higher power," and finally with some sort of manic babbling craptastic nonsense about soiling himself.  Let's all just try to forget the last, and stick to the first two things...  Clearly, the story here is that somehow, Vince has convinced himself that he can beat the Undertaker.  Does this foreshadow some kind of evil plot and/or outside interference? 

Taker's promos have been spot-on the past 3 weeks.  He has discussed the Respect issue, and how Vince doesn't have any, although Taker commands it from everybody else in the locker room.  He's discussed Vince's treatment of employees and family, and has promised to forcibly right those wrongs on Sunday.  He's even visited a graveyard and proclaimed that only Vince could force him back to his roots.  He stopped short of saying that Vince will "Rest in Peace," but nevertheless, you could sense the possibility that Taker and WWE are laying the foundation for the return of the Dead Man.

All those possibilities will lend a bit of drama to this match, and the Buried Alive gimmick opens things up for Taker and Vince to do plenty of crazy stuff leading up to the finish.  A good wrestling match?  Never.  But sing along with me folks:  this has the makings of a fun Sports Entertainment Segment.

My Prediction: Vince's "higher power" is instrumental to Vince getting the surprise win.  And by Royal Rumble, the Dead Man Taker is back.  I don't necessarily endorse the idea, but all signs certainly point that direction.  And I'm trying for accuracy here, not for what I'd like to see happen.  Because trust me, a SD! devoid of Vince McMahon appeals greatly to me...  but I don't see it happening.

Goldberg vs. Triple H (World Title)

A rematch from two months ago, this feud has simmered in the absence of HHH.  Allowing his groin to heal and getting married kept HHH off all but 2 editions of RAW since he dropped the strap to Goldberg on PPV.  But he did send wave after wave of bounty hunters after Goldberg, with results that have direct bearing on Sunday's match.

A returning Batista managed to "shatter" Goldberg's ankle 4 weeks ago, and Goldberg inadvisably took a match against Batista this past Monday...  he will still be severely hobbled going into the match against HHH.

The injury, however, could have the result of turning a subpar wrestling match into a more exciting and dramatic affair than it would otherwise be.  The match these two had in September was hampered by HHH's very real injury; but a fake injury to Goldberg will create a focus for both men to play off of.  The psychology of the match could benefit from Goldberg having to play defense more than would be standard for him.  And it will make his eventual heroic comeback that much more bad-ass when it happens.

My Prediction: the cynics will dispute me, but I think Goldberg goes over.  I don't think we know exactly how fully healed HHH is, for one.  And for two, there are heels that I'd like to see Goldberg entrenched with more than another go-round with HHH.  To wit: I'm still guessing that the monster vs. monster feud between Goldberg and Kane is on the horizon, and Goldberg needs to retain the belt to keep that interesting.

Kane vs. Shane McMahon (Ambulance Match)

This four-month-long saga should finally be at an end after Sunday.  What started as Shane returning to the spotlight to avenge his mother (who had been Tombstoned by Kane) blossomed into a never-ending story that alternated between the very cool and the very lame.

Vehicular assaults, testicular electrocutions, flaming dumpsters, hospital attacks, and a steady stream of smacktalk have resulted in Kane and Shane agreeing to an Ambulance Match.  One man or the other will be hospitalized after this match.

The gimmick obviously introduces the opportunity for Shane to pull off another of his trademark insane stunts.  The brawling and gimmickry should be exceptionally good fun for those of us watching at home (although less so for Shane, if he's gonna jump off some more high places).  But just as important: I'm assuming that ambulance gimmick means that the coup de grace on Sunday will be another vehicular stunt of some kind.  It would just seem a fitting counterpoint to the previous limo wreck, and also a very convincing way to write Shane out of action for a long while.

My Prediction: see above comment about expecting Goldberg vs. Kane.  No way Shane goes over.  Shane only goes to the hospital and then gets to go back to the relative obscurity (and safety) of his office job for another year or so.

Team Angle (Kurt Angle, Chris Benoit, John Cena, Bob Holly, Bradshaw) vs. Team Lesnar (Brock Lesnar, Big Show, A-Train, Matt Morgan, Nathan Jones)

Unlike the RAW 5-on-5, there is almost no reason at all for this match to exist.  Three weeks ago, Paul Heyman just sort of decided "Hey, it's Survivor Series, so let's do a five-on-five match."  There is nothing on the line here.  Except, of course, pride and honor.  Which is good and all, but which pales compared to the implications of Team Austin vs. Team Bischoff.

Lesnar's team came almost fully-formed: Heyman assigned Show, Morgan, and Jones right away.  A fourth spot was offered to John Cena.  However, Cena didn't think he'd fit in on "Team Sasquatch," so he declined.  He was then attacked by A-Train (with whom he'd had a falling out the week before).  A-Train was granted the fifth spot immediately.

Angle, on the other hand, had to recruit aggressively to fill out his team.  He first had to convince Benoit (with whom he has a lot of personal history) to join him.  Then he found out that Bob Holly was willing to join, because Holly wanted to a shot at Brock Lesnar upon his return from neck injury (an injury that occurred during a match with Lesnar).  Finally, he added in the APA.

But Faarooq was "injured" in an attack by Team Lesnar two weeks ago, leaving Angle back at four members of his team.  Last night, he revealed that John Cena had agreed to join the team, if only for a shot at revenge against Team Sasquatch.  And with that, the sides were full.

Action-wise, the story here will be the talent and technique of Team Angle against the sheer size and power of Team Lesnar.  Brock, at 6'4" and 290 lbs., is actually the tiniest member of his team, which is pretty amazing.  Given recent outings by wild cards Morgan and Jones, I think this will end up working out very nicely.

My Prediction:  Team Angle has to win, if only because Team Lesnar holds both singles titles.  Those title holders being pinned create instant feuds/challengers, which are necessary, since Lesnar has no pending issue, and Show has essentially sat on the US Title since winning it a month ago.  Wins by babyfaces over those two will bring the titles back to the forefront, where they should be.  Angle or Cena as the sole survivor would seem to be obvious... but I'm gonna do the same thing I did with the Austin/Bischoff match and play a joker.  I think Benoit pins Lesnar and is the Sole Survivor.  Cena, I think, should take out Big Show to position himself for a US Title feud.

The Basham Brothers vs. Los Guerreros (WWE Tag Titles)

The Bashams were the beneficiaries four weeks ago when Eddie Guerrero (beaten badly following a pair of run-ins with the Big Show) was at less than 100%.  The Bashams got a tag title shot, and won the belts, pinning Eddie.

This upset Eddie's nephew and partner, Chavo... but all was set right when Eddie earned a title rematch by beating both Bashams in a handicap match.  The title match was supposed to happen last night, however, the Bashams fooled Eddie into thinking his sister-in-law was in an accident.  Eddie left the building, the match was postponed till the PPV, and Chavo ended up facing both Bashams alone.  And he did not fare as well as Uncle Eddie.  In fact, he got his ass handed to him, and now HE will be going into the title match at less than 100%.

The Bashams have really started to gel as a tag team, with good double-team moves and a sort of goofy heel charisma as a result of their S&M gimmick.  The Guerreros are simply awesome.  I expect a very good match here.

My Prediction:  the Bashams win, and take advantage of Chavo's situation to do so.  I don't think we'll see a full-on heel turn by Chavo just yet, but a loss in this match will certainly provide more ammo for Chavo when it does happen.  I think with Haas and Benjamin inching towards babyfacedom, keeping the titles on the Bashams in the right play.

Tajiri vs. Jamie Noble (Cruiserweight Title Match)

About a month ago, Vince McMahon sicced Tajiri on Noble after some offhand comments by Noble and Nidia... and in that match, Tajiri unveiled a here-to-fore unseen Black Mist.  And he spewed it on Nidia.  Nidia, reportedly suffering vision problems, hasn't been on TV since.  But Noble hasn't forgiven Tajiri, and earned himself this title shot by pinning Tajiri in a tag match a week ago.

Tajiri has surrounded himself with Akio and Sakoda, two Japanese mercenary types, but Noble may well have a returning Nidia up his sleeve for Sunday, too.  The extracurriculars, however intriguing, will hopefully be secondary to what could be an excellent wrestling match between two very talented performers.

My Prediction:  Nidia does return, but her influence is not enough to overcome Tajiri's two hired goons.  Tajiri retains.

Molly Holly vs. Lita (Women's Title)

For Lita, this is the end of a 2 month long journey to get a shot at the title she once held.  That journey, itself, came after her year-long journey recovering from neck surgery.  So a title win here would be double-sweet for her.

But it won't come easy.  Molly's been awesome as the heel champ for the last few months, laying beatdowns on and setting traps for Lita and Trish Stratus, and manipulating Gail Kim as a helpful crony.  Molly's technically sound style should mesh well with Lita's now-less-highspot-centric repertoire to create a quality little match here.

My Prediction: the chase is more fun than the having.  So I say stretch out Lita's happy ending till next month's RAW-only PPV.  Possibly X-Factor:  Matt Hardy, who everybody is expecting to jump to RAW and who might put those wheels in motion on Sunday.

That's it... all eight matches they've announced so far.  Hopefully, they'll toss in a little something for Rey Mysterio to do on Heat, too... that'd be my first wish, anyway, for a Heat match.

Survivor Series shapes up as a show with ample in-ring potential in a few matches, and lots of possibilities for major storyline developments and shake-ups in the others.  Should make for a good show.

Check it out on PPV on Sunday night... or just come on back here to OO sometime around midnight for my full immediate post-show Recap.  And then more thoughts and fall-out in the regular column on Monday.  See you then.


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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