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WWE Kicks Off New Year, Goldberg
Re-Activated (in Japan), More...
January 5, 2004

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


Oh, woe is me!  How will I go on with my life?  My heart is in tatters!  My beloved Britney has married another man!  And it's the tubby, bald guy who played George on "Seinfeld"?  She could have done so much better!  She could have done ME!

Oh, wait... you mean she just got black-out drunk in Vegas and did a quickie wedding with some other dude also named Jason Alexander?  And that it's probably annulled by the time you read this?  Ah, the dream lives on!

Oh, wait again...  you mean she wasn't drunk, she just "took a joke too far"?  Ah ha.  She's also never touched cigarettes, much less a penis!  I read it in a press release, so it must be true!  Also, this just in: I am now a 12-year-old girl!

Or not:

  • So, what the hell is a "Sheriff" in pro wrestling terms?  That's probably the most pressing issue on my mind as RAW presents its first live show of 2004 tonight.
    No, wait!  I mean that Mark Henry finally getting his Survivor Series Wish from Eric Bischoff!  THAT's the most important thing tonight!  Yeah!  Oh, who am I kidding....
    I bitched at length last week about how I found Austin's return to be a mostly lazy and uncreative story arc, and that's based on my idea that what we've got here is basically Austin returning to a role of power equal to that of Eric Bischoff's as GM.  Resulting in nothing fresher than more weekly pissing contests with Bischoff.  All at the drop of Linda McMahon's hat.  Rendering months of fun angles and a killer match at Survivor Series meaningless.  I stand at the ready to be proven wrong tonight... but I am not holding my breath.
    At the same time, I'm certainly happy to have Austin back on TV.  In some ways, I'm no more difficult a fan than the people who popped like corks out of champagne bottles back on Monday night:  I like Austin, and I know he'll deliver great promos and stuff like that.  He'll be a boost to RAW by virtue of his performance.  But that doesn't eliminate my nagging sense that he could have been an even bigger boost by virtue of a stronger storyline surrounding his return.  We'll just have to see how it goes...
    Austin's first order of business was to insist that Shawn Michaels will receive a World Title rematch against Triple H, after last week's mild screwiness...  I'll presume, at this point, that he means at the Rumble PPV, but I really don't care one way or the other.  After the match the two had last week, they could do Part 2 whenever and wherever they want, and I'll be there with bells on.  Michaels as HHH's main event foil is a very good thing, in my eyes:  HHH -- slowed by injuries and by middling-at-best opponents like Steiner, Nash, and Goldberg in the last year -- could use a series of top shelf matches to get back a little of the luster he lost over this last title reign (or reigns, technically).
    And with word continuing to swirl that HHH's schedule will be spotty, at best, over the first part of 2004, it wouldn't surprise me if Michaels actually took the belt, either.  And that might be a good thing, too.  When he had the belt for a cup of coffee 14 months ago, it was a gimmick thing: a part-time "legend" winning the belt on basically a fluke and then only defending it one time before losing it.  This time around, Michaels has fully proven that he's back close to his 1996 form, capable of working show-stealing matches week-in and week-out.  If HHH lost some luster in the last year, then so has the World Title.  In the wake of Goldberg's mixed results, Michaels might be the only babyface on the roster to help restore some of that at this point. 
    What else have we got, tonight?
    Evolution still has all the gold, and outside of HBK/HHH, we're looking at a Flair/Batista vs. the Dudleys feud being the top line tag title feud.  Flair used his craftiness to screw the Duds last week (as a ref, he caused them to lose to two unknown jobbers), and then Batista followed up by using his brawn to decimate them.  It's not exactly clear what IC Champ Randy Orton's got next on his plate: he had a little one-off deal with Booker last week (but Booker's got both Mark Henry and Kane to deal with first, I think), he could always go the re-match route with Rob Van Dam, and one of these week's he'll have Mick Foley in his grill again... till that last, though, he might just be in a bit of a Credibility Building phase, being fed a different challenger every week until fans actually start to believe Orton is the blue chipper that WWE apparently thinks he is.  Cuz we aren't there yet.
    Chris Jericho vs. Christian should be on a fast-track to goodness.  I was not impressed with Christian's third-grader-ness or Trish's melodrama-ness last week, but the fact is that for over three months, now, this simmering storyline hasn't sucked in consecutive weeks, so I'm thinking they'll get it back on track.  The key(s): make sure both Trish and Jericho come off well and start to get on the same page, so that Jericho's a strong enough face that Christian is hate-able, instead of just there as part of a kind of heel/heel feud.  Does that make sense?  Unless the pay off is that JR is right and Jericho REALLY IS still just pretending to like Trish... but let's not go there just now.  And if nothing else, hey, I'd be pretty fired up for Jericho and Christian having a series of good matches, even if it is part of a storyline that's going south.  
    Speaking of Trish... she's still got her fingers in the Women's Title pie.  [Aw, dammit, is that one of them there innuendos Big Show was talking about sneaking in here?]  But she may be heading to the fringes of the title picture.  The Jericho love story is probably central to her at this point... meantime, Victoria seems to be coveted Molly's title, and turned babyface last week.  And Lita's still in the mix, too, having never really gotten her big blow-off match against Molly.  And Gail Kim's due back any week now.  And Jazz is already working house shows and certainly ain't staying gone for long.  Victoria/Molly seems the most pressing issue, but beyond that, there are tons of possibilities and potential reshuffling they can do here...
    And for better or for worse: they'll probably come up with some way for Jerry Lawler to do more than just commentate tonight.  RAW is live from Memphis, and the company tends to find some way for the King to perform in a match for his hometown fans.  Sometimes it's really fun... sometimes, not.
    Kane's next "killing time till Taker's back" match will probably be against Booker T.  Could be tonight, unless they want to drag it out one more week.  That might be cool, if they can do a good job of setting it up instead of just throwing it out there half-assedly.
    Check out RAW tonight, or come on back here tomorrow for the usual Recap and Satire routine!
  • Goldberg may be "de-activated" as far as RAW is concerned, but that didn't keep him from working over the weekend in Japan.
    He did a ZERO-ONE show on Saturday night, and defeated Naoya Ogawa via pinfall in the main event.  Apparently, the match was very "busy," with ref bumps and a ringside appearance by Shinya Hashimoto.  Hashimoto is presumed to be Goldberg's next opponent in Japan, where he still has either 2 or 3 matches left on a contract he signed prior to debuting for WWE.  
    ZERO-ONE's next big show is the weekend before WrestleMania XX, though I don't think that Goldberg working that card would be a problem for anyone.
    One report said that ZERO-ONE was less than pleased with the box office performance of this weekend's Goldberg-headlined show (which also featured Vader's return to work, and a gimmicky six-man with Mil Mascaras and Dusty Rhodes heading up teams), with fewer than 15,000 paid.  They did themselves no favors by going up against the annual NJPW TokyoDome mega-show (which drew over 50,000 for a 15 match supercard headlined by AJPW's Keiji Mutoh and K-1's Bob Sapp teaming up to defeat Masa Chono and Hiroyoshi Tenzan).
  • For whatever it's worth, I've heard that WWE intends to have Goldberg back at the Rumble PPV...  but that nobody much knows what, if anything, has been decided for Goldberg post-WM20.  With him needing time to work on a movie this winter and with a contract "out" in March, there is a lot up in the air right now....
  • Depending on what else you're reading, you might also be under the impression that a lot more than just Goldberg's long term future is up in the air at WWE...  based on my e-mails, I guess the hot rumors have the Fed releasing about half their talent roster or something as part of a New Year's house cleaning.
    Which is not gonna happen.
    Will there be some decisions made in the coming days and weeks?  Well, yeah... the company usually does try to cut some deadweight loose in the opening part of the year.  Like last year, it was Raven and D'Lo Brown who were deemed unprofitable.
    But as to massive cuts?  Not likely.  Already, the decision has been made on Goldust.  We may not agree, but fine, if WWE thinks a pricier, injury-prone vet is not what they need when they can sign 10 developmental prospects for the same price, then that's their prerogative.  They had an out with Goldust, and they took it.  Kevin Nash is off the books, too, and the Fed has not exactly aggressively pursued a new contract there.
    Additional releases probably won't be anywhere near this high profile.  Nor as numerous as some doomsayers are apparently reporting.
  • If you're wondering where the OO Consensus Awardies are, well, thanks for asking...  I actually added up the numbers over the weekend, but in a rare display of moderation, did not rush to do up the final presentation.  Why?  Because I realized that you've just gotten done reading 10 of those big-ass awards pieces from the various OO-ites.  You need to decompress.
    So instead of launching the 2003 OO Year in Review with the consensus awards, that'll be the big finale.  You can cleanse your palate with the month-by-month recaps, first (they begin either later today or tomorrow, depending on me), then return to the awards topic in another week or so.
    Or, if you're really industrious, you can go through the 10 ballots cast and do the math yourself.  It's 5 points for a 1st place, 3 points for 2nd, and 2 points for 3rd.  Who's the Wrestler of the Year?  I ain't telling... but it's really close between the top three.
  • Of, if you are interested in another metric for who was awesome in 2003, I did a little Battle of the Brands summary thing.  It's one thing to think back on the Big Picture of an entire year and vote for certain guys.  But every week (even before BotB started in June), OO hands out three mini-awards for the Best of a Given Week.  
    I think, in a lot of ways, those Week's Best honors represent a clearer picture on who was really doing the grunt work over the year.  Who stood out as the highlight of a 2 hour show most regularly?  It might not be the same person/people who seemed to shine consistently throughout the year.
    So (again using a 5/3/2 points scheme for Wrestler of the Week, Match of the Week, and Angle/Promo of the Week, respectively), I've calculated the BotB MVP of 2003... and the winner:  Chris Benoit.  Who showed up on exactly ZERO ballots as "Wrestler of the Year" in the award voting.  Benoit, under-appreciated, indeed.
    You can get the full "micro-view" of the best of 2003, including the top 30 point-getters from the OO Honor Roll and a complete look at the 6 months of RAW vs. SD! ratings by OO (SD! wins Brand of the Year, and I've got a TON of cool charts and graphs for both Nielsen and BotB ratings, too), in the Battle of the Brands 2003 Summary.
  • And no, there will be no OO Fantasy Universe in 2004.  I thought way more seriously about it than I should have, but sanity won out in the end.  I don't have the time to do it right. And remembering how it went in 2001, the only reason why it turned out as well as it did (with the killer WM PPV I came up with) is because I put the time into the weekly TV shows.  So if I can't do that, I'm just not gonna do it at all.
    And no one shed a tear.  Except maybe those sneaky bastards at WWE who would have loved to steal my shit.  They already started with the Benoit-is-#1-at-the-Rumble thing.  I'm sure they would have been smart enough to see the pure genius of Cena (c) vs. Kurt vs. Eddie vs. Chavo for the US Title at WM20, too, and all the cool stuff you could do leading up to it.  
  • I think that's about enough for today.  The first quarter of 2003 beckons.
    See you tomorrow with RAW Recap, and then Wednesday with spoilers and other news.


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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