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RAW Stuff, Eating Some Crow, Angle,
Hogan, TNA's Debuting Star, and More
January 21, 2004

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


The only thing on my mind, small-talk-wise, today would be another comparison of how the State of the Union Address is a lot more like a bad pro wrestling promo than anyone would comfortably admit.  You know: overly scripted and stilted, with pointless and predictable cheap pops scattered throughout.  Except it seems like I do that every year....

So I'll just cut to the chase:

  • I liked Monday's RAW...  it wasn't a blow away video-keeper or anything.  But if weekly TV is a tool to get fans interested in PPVs, this was a week when WWE used it expertly.  Like Bob Villa or something... or probably whatshisname, Bob Villa's actually-skilled buddy who did all the work...
    Nevertheless, with it probably impossible to make most fans any more anxious for another Triple H/Shawn Michaels showdown, they didn't do a whole lot on that front.  Nor did they spend a preponderance of time on what is (appropriately) an undercard feud, with the Duds vs. Batista/Flair.  Both got mentions, both were kept simmering nicely, but on this night, the company's full creative effort was behind boosting the profile of the RAW wrestlers in the Rumble match itself.
    And with everybody considering a Chris Benoit Rumble win as a foregone conclusion, believe me, this is a Good and Necessary Thing.
    By putting #30 up for grabs, RAW not only had all 15 of its entrants interacting with each other to gain that honor, but they also inserted Goldberg as another potential favorite to win the match.  Poll the non-internet-or-newsletter-reading fans all over the place, and tell me they didn't just catapult Goldberg up to their consensus "Most Likely to Win the Rumble" choice... he went through essentially two handicap matches on Monday, and looked good doing it.  That's pretty convincing.
    The interactions in the quest for #30 also seamlessly segued into the Jericho/Christian/Trish thing, which was a bonus.  I thought Christian was kind of the MVP of the undercard on Monday for the way he so effectively stirred the shit with both Jericho (over the #30 shot) and Trish (over the incriminating photos of Jericho).  Good stuff.  I also thought the way they handled Kane effectively gives RAW a second "monster" in the Rumble: instead of having him win his Advancement Match and sacrifice with Kane or Goldberg in the battle royal, they gypped Kane out of his spot in the battle royal but still had him savage Spike Dudley enough that he's a very legit threat from any number even if it's not #30.
    I've taken some heat for my criticism of Mark Henry's "Stank," which I gather has accumulated a bit of cult following already...  I still say it's stupid, and it was just a terribly forced and nonsensical way to work Trish into a conversation that she had no business being a part of (because the pay-off of that bit was never meant to be Mark Henry's weekly-recurring "Stank," it was supposed to be the forelorn look on Jericho's face when Henry even mentioned Trish).  But hey, if you liked it, more power to you.  I guess....
    You can get the complete results from Monday's RAW, and a few more of my editorial thoughts, as well, in the OO RAW Recap.
  • No RAW rating as of this early afternoon writing...  delayed, I am sure by the MLK holiday on Monday.  The rating will be included in this week's Battle of the Brands, though, so you can find it there if I should happen to forget to mention it in Friday's OO.
  • You know that thing about how I said the full-roster meetings at both RAW and SD! in recent weeks were just more of the same twice-a-year lip service that Vince and upper management have been doing for the past 18 or so months?
    Well, guess again...  I'm eating crow on this one, as the meetings happened again at both tapings this week, and are now being discussed as a possible weekly (and definitely semi-weekly) occurrence.
    Two points of emphasis this week.  Number one, management is dead serious about slowing workers down and reducing the number of highspots in matches.  By focusing on ring psychology, the idea is that they can make the remaining big spots mean more, and at the same time, reduce injuries.  This is not just the same lip service given to the idea at past meeting, not just the sort of road agent advice that workers would promptly ignore in the name of popping a crowd...  this is a real company-wide initiative, and you've already been seeing some of the results (on Velocity and Heat, especially).
    And number two, apparently the internet and newsletters were savaged by Vince and the upper echelon at the meetings.  Not so subtle threats were lobbed towards any WWE employee who was quoted in the "dirt sheets."  Hell, I don't know what the big deal is: it's been coming up on 2 years since I last got comped for anything by the Fed, and in that time, they've pretty much instituted a "Cut Off the Internet Campaign" by making only WWE-sanctioned radio and "legit" press interviews legal for talent.  But apparently, we're the bane of WWE's existence these days, and we're not to be talked to.
    Hey, whoever's in charge of compiling the daily Dirt Report for Vince:  tell him that I'm am getting all my news directly from Mark Henry, Bob Holly, Ernest Miller, and in a few weeks hope to re-open my communications with Billy Gunn, OK?  Fire them....
    HA!  Obviously, I'm just kidding.  I'm not really interested in getting anyone in trouble... I just think it's kind of petulant of Vince and WWE to think they can put this genie back in the bottle after THEY are the ones that unleashed it.  Back in 1997, when they thought it could help them, the adopted "Attitude" (which meant the end to "insulting the audience's intelligence") and shortly there after did the "Get It?" campaign (which basically said, "Hey, we're fake!  FAKE FAKE FAKE!").  When it helped them seem more entertaining or relevant than WCW, WWF/E was more than happy to embrace smarts and the internet.  Now, they want to cut it off?
    Well, listen, I did my whole big piece about WWE and the Internet back in May of last year.  It was one of the 2003 pieces I was most proud of.  It says many things that are just as pertinent to this discussion here as they were to the one 7 months ago, so you can check it out if you want.  Bottom line is, I've got no problem if WWE wants to turn back the clock a little inside the ring in the name of reducing injuries and lengthening careers (we had ***** matches of the year in 1994 just like we will in 2004, and as long as Vince isn't saying he wants to go back to 1984, we're more than OK on that front)...  but you can't undo what you, yourself, have done on the internet, WWE.  We're here, some of us aren't quite so parasitical, either...  but regardless, I doubt any of us are going anywhere.
  • Speaking of guys who need to take it easy to lengthen their careers...  Kurt Angle is probably the poster child for that lot.
    During a recent radio interview with Mark Madden, Angle was pretty blunt about having to tone down his ring work if he's going to last much longer in the business.  He said, point blank, that chairshots are out.  In fact, it was chairshots to the head that caused this latest problem, which essentially necessitated a re-do of his April surgery, Angle said.
    Realizing that, if he's put in a situation where he has to consider a third neck surgery, his career might be over, Kurt is opting to turn the dial down a little bit upon his return to the ring.
    It's kind of sobering to think that Angle's maybe one bad bump away from being in the same boat as Steve Austin... but it seems like that's the case.
    Also in the interview, they covered some lighter ground: Angle boasting of an amateur match win over Lesnar, Angle talking about his hair, Angle talking about the originally-conceived Olympic run in 2004, Madden talking about Angle being Pittsburgh's #1 Favorite Son with Madden a close #2 and Angle not being able to go along with it with a straight face.  Stuff like that. 
    Thanks to the two readers who sent along highlights...
  • Some more about Hulk Hogan and where he stands....
    There are very real talks going on about Hogan being involved with a Universal Studios wrestling project with Jimmy Hart.  A hang-up, at this point, is where the financing will come from.  Hart took it on the chin with the XWF, and the ideal situation is that an outside money man will put up money for a pilot/special to be filmed, and in return, Jimmy will allow use of the XWF brand name.  Based on the success of that pilot, the hope would be to get a bankroll to produce a weekly series.
    Hart's apparently got one prospective investor.  Hart's envisioning a low-six-figures investment, and the show he'd produce would include a Sting vs. Kevin Nash main event, with a lot of the other usual suspects supplying the supporting cast.  
    Here's the kicker, though: Hulk Hogan would be attached to the pilot/special project, but not tied to the promotion as a whole.  Hogan would show up and cut a promo, and in exchange, his daughter would get some exposure on the show.  But supposedly, Hogan will not sign an exclusive contract or even work a match at those first tapings.  Why?
    For the same reason Hogan has completely walked away from TNA: concerns over finances and long-term prospects, and a VERY strong desire to do one final run with WWE, which is where he knows his legacy was built and where it should, logically, have its finale.
    Everything I've heard over the past week, I'm leaning very much towards thinking that Hulk Hogan will now be present in some capacity at WrestleMania XX.  That's a complete 180 degree switch for me...
    In any case, Hogan's appearance on tomorrow night's (late Thursday/early Friday) "Jimmy Kimmel Live" may not give us all the answers, but might provide some clues as to what Hogan's looking into...
  • Another thing that I was resistant to believing even one week ago: Benoit to RAW.  And it's another thing that I'm starting to soften on...  not soften in terms of whether I think it's a good idea or not.  But soften in terms of whether I think it's for real or not.
    The talk continues unabated, and it does look like my original theory (one where Benoit goes to RAW at the same time that Goldberg goes to SD!) is the one we might see develop.  Or at least, the one that a lot of people are talking about.
    In this scenario (which I think plays out best if Benoit wins the Rumble, but then, to prevent him from getting his title shot, Heyman trades him to RAW for Goldberg), Benoit essentially replaces Goldberg as RAW's top face, and Goldberg stays face to take on Lesnar at WMXX.  And then, goes the story, Goldberg will probably be done with WWE.  Chances of him negotiating an extension are seemingly running at about 5% if you believe all you hear...
  • In case you've missed them, spoilers for the final pre-PPV SmackDown! are right here.  Sounds like a strong show...
  • Following up on Monday... Maven will be out of action for at least 6 weeks following elbow surgery.  He got hurt last Friday on a house show, and the diagnosis came in on Monday.  Best of luck for a speedy recovery for Maven...
  • TNA's been in kind of a funk since returning from the holiday break, storyline-wise... as they try to find another hook or major direction to go (kind of understandable, especially if they've resigned themselves to not getting Hogan in), there's been a lot of throwing it at the wall to see what sticks.
    Like masked men attacking Jeff Jarrett; that guy will finally face Jarrett one-on-one on tonight's show, and possibly reveal himself.
    And DEFINITELY like bringing in new guys in an attempt to spark some interest.  Chief among them tonight is "Jonny Fairplay" (the guy from Survivor), who will be doing a Contract Signing gimmick tonight on the PPV.  But also: Balls Mahoney will make his TNA debut to team up with the Sandman against former Raven cronies and new James Mitchell cronies, CM Punk and Julio Dinero.
    And: it's entirely possible that the Insane Clown Posse will start with the company tonight.  That's their story, anyway.
    Check out the show, if you like... you know me: it's Wednesday, which means A-10 basketball.  But I'm still, in my infinite laziness, hoping to get somebody who'll do TNA recaps every week, so maybe we'll have a recap for you tomorrow or Friday.
  • With that, I'm out.  Tick tock tick tock: is the Year in Review approaching completion or not?  Come back and find out...


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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