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ONLINE ONSLAUGHT
Rumble PPV Preview and Other News
January 23, 2004

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com

 

Well, I win.  No paying airfare for you sons of bitches to come sac punch me!

The Kick-Ass 2003 OO Year in Review is COMPLETE!  Check it out.  And when you get tired of reading through it one-quarter of the way through, remember what *I* went through compiling it, you bastards!

And now, in what's left of Friday afternoon, it's time for a quick Column in Two Parts.  PPV Preview first.  Some quick Newsbites second...

Royal Rumble PPV Preview

Me, I really like the Royal Rumble.  Maybe it's because my first-ever PPV was the '92 Rumble where Flair kicked ass.  Maybe it's because of the '95 Rumble with Nash/Hart, LT, and Michaels winning from #1.  Maybe it's because of the fun Royal Rumble Game we play every year (wrestlers are randomly assigned to everybody in the room, and you accumulate points based on how your wrestler does: 1 point for every elimination, a half-point for participating in a group elimination, five points for being runner up, ten points for winning the Rumble; plus there is a five point bonus to the player with the most wrestlers in the final five, which can be split as necessary... it's a beautiful thing to actually have people in the room AGGRESSIVELY cheering for someone like, say, Rene Dupree to toss somebody out!)...  whatever it is, I like the Rumble.

And this year's event is shaping up like one with potential to be one of the special ones.  Rumble Game or not.  Here's the six-match line-up....

RIC FLAIR/BATISTA vs. DUDLEY BOYZ (Tables Match for the World Tag Team Titles)

The Duds were robbed by Evolution back at Armageddon, when Flair and Batista entered themselves as the seventh team in a six-team gauntlet match.  They took advantage of the spent Dudleys to win the straps.  Evolution escaped with the titles in a rematch 2 weeks ago, but this time around, it'll be a tables match, the Dudleys' specialty. 

What would be standard fare if it was just a straight tag match looks like it should be pretty exciting by adding in the tables gimmick.  Crowds are always hot for table spots, and there's enough talent here to keep things moving pretty nicely in between, too.  A perfect PPV opener, if you ask me.

Prediction: I don't think it's time to tell the story of Evolution losing any gold, yet.  And plus, there are more potential face challengers for Evolution than heel challengers for the Dudleys.  So somehow, Flair and Batista manage to win in the Dudley's own specialty match.

REY MYSTERIO vs. JAMIE NOBLE (Cruiserweight Title)

Like the tables match, this is one that will pop the crowd for the highspots. Sadly, I'm not sure I have the confidence in the live crowd to go for the mat wrestling and whatnot that Rey and Noble are sure to do as part of the Fed's new "Slow It Down, Speedy" Campaign.  A nice mid-show palate cleanser, I think, unless they really want to give it a good 12-15 minutes to build to a big finish.  I expect solid, but not spectacular.

The reason for that is that I think they'll be more in story mode than in **** workrate mode.  Blind Nidia has been taken advantage of numerous times in the last month by Noble, but she is standing by his side, loyally.  Even when Rey tried to explain to her that Noble was using her as a pawn to win his matches, she didn't care.  Conventional wisdom would say that this seems to be building to Nidia realizing Rey has her best interests in mind, and dumping Noble to help Rey win.  I say the opposite: Nidia is not to be trusted, kids!

Prediction: Nidia is not blind, which she reveals after she and Noble sucker Rey into some compromising spot or another... it was all just a set up to take advantage of Rey's good nature and steal his Cruiserweight Title!  Then we've got the title on a heel and Rey on the chase heading to WMXX, which is how it should be...

EDDIE GUERRERO vs. CHAVO GUERRERO 

Here's another one where the ringwork could be absolutely off the charts awesome, but where they might be slowing it down to tell a story.  They laid the foundation of Eddie needing to "control his emotions" on Thursday, otherwise Chavo will get the better of him.

You'll also have the potential for outside interference here.  Chavo Sr. might still be around helping his son break out from under the shadow of his own kid brother.  And who the hell knows what Kurt Angle will be up to?  My instinct remains that Kurt's going heel to feud with Eddie after the way he dropped out of his "peace maker" role and into a "war maker" role (and then promptly powdered out via a mystery eye gouge, leaving Eddie to hang on Thursday)... but will that happen at the Rumble, or after?  If Kurt were to interject himself here, it would certainly make Eddie running-in on the Rumble match a cool little possibility...

Prediction: I think Kurt minds his own business for now.  Eddie gets the fall over Chavo, even if Chavo Sr. is present.  That's just backsies for the fall he gave Chavo on Thursday.  Plus, Eddie's projected to challenge Lesnar next month, so he needs this win...

BROCK LESNAR vs. BOB HOLLY (WWE Title Match)

Alright, the story is that back in the fall of 2002, Lesnar accidentally broke Holly's neck with some stiff work in a match they had (if memory serves, they were both laying in and not exactly cooperating as tempers briefly flared).  Holly ended up needing surgery and over a year off to recover.  Now he's back and he wants to pay Brock back by breaking his neck and taking his title.

Sounds compelling doesn't it?  Oh, not really?  Damn.... I guess somebody forgot to get the memo to WWE that just breaking one's neck does not qualify one as a main event babyface upon one's return.  In any case, this has been a hit and miss production as they've tried mightily to push Holly into a main event slot, and I'm not so sure they've sold anyone on Bob Holly World Champion.

It'll be on Lesnar to play up his chickenshit-ness to be a heel despicable enough the fans back Holly, I think.  It could happen, too.  If it does and there's some sizzle to this one, it might be alright.  I'll admit a morbid curiosity in how hard these two tough bastards are gonna be hitting each other...

Prediction: Lesnar retains the title.  Plain and simple.  It is the only possible outcome.  You could visit three trillion alternate dimensions, and Holly would win the title in none of them.  In a few, he might get a count-out or DQ win, but those are pansy dimensions if you ask me.  Lesnar.  Pinfall.  And move on.

TRIPLE H vs. SHAWN MICHAELS (Last Man Standing Match for the World Heavyweight Title)

I have neither the time nor the compunction to explain to you how this rivalry dates back to 1997.  The short version, though: you just need to know that Michaels pissed off Evolution at Armageddon by being the only guy to score a win over Evolution (vs. Batista) on the PPV.  He ran afoul of HHH, and wound up getting himself a World Title Shot on the final RAW of 2003.

In that match, Michaels pinned HHH; the only problem was that Michaels' own shoulders were down, and in the double pin scenario, the Champ retains.  Oh, so close!  Also in the match: HHH finally looked back to something resembling 100% health (for the first time in almost 8 months), and the two tore the house down in a tremendous contest that should only be an appetizer for what they can do with the Last Man Standing gimmick on Sunday.

HHH/HBK on the last RAW of 2003 wound up being a very real contender for Match of That Year.  HHH/HBK just 3 weeks later has every bit of potential to be on the shortlist for Match of This year.

Prediction: If I'm booking it, I put Shawn over and do a babyface/babyface title match at Mania against either Jericho or Goldberg.  But I'm not.  Vince is.  And for whatever retarded reason, he apparently wants to drag Benoit away from SD! so he can feud with HHH.  Which I'm assuming means HHH retains here and goes to WMXX against Benoit...  at least, that's what I'll pick in the name of trying to know Vince's mind.

THE 30 MAN ROYAL RUMBLE MATCH

The Rules: two men start, every two minutes (or 90 seconds, depending on time) a new man enters until all 30 participants have entered, men are eliminated by going over the top rope and having both feet hit the floor, and the last man in the ring at the end of the night is the winner, and goes to WrestleMania to face the World Champion.

Special notes for this year:  Chris Benoit is (by order of Paul Heyman) being forced to enter at #1.  Goldberg is (by virtue of winning a battle royal on RAW) entering at #30.  And oddly, neither show has made a clear note of which "World Champ" the winner is going to face at WMXX.  Last year, they specifically were hyping it as the Rumble winner would face HIS BRAND'S champ at Mania.  This year, they are either expecting us to take that as read, or are leaving it intentionally vague to allow for a roster jump for the winner.  Remember: last year, on the occasion of the first Roster Split Rumble, I advocated a deal where the Rumble winner not only wins a WM title shot, but also wins Free Agency so that he can pick which Champ he wants to face at Mania.  I still think that's a great way to handle the situation...

The 15 SD! Participants: Chris Benoit, Kurt Angle, John Cena, Big Show, A-Train, Charlie Haas, Shelton Benjamin, Rhyno, Matt Morgan, Bradshaw, Rikishi, Billy Gunn, Tajiri, Nunzio, and Ernest Miller.

The 15 RAW Participants: Goldberg, Kane, Chris Jericho, Booker T, Rob Van Dam, Randy Orton, Scott Steiner, Christian, Matt Hardy, Mark Henry, Test, Rico, Hurricane, Spike Dudley, and Rene Dupree.

Of note: no open slot for the Undertaker, who many thought would return at the Rumble in his old school/supernatural gimmick to terrorize Kane.  This is not a prediction in terms of the result, but I'll toss it out there anyway: I expect, in one form or another, that the Undertaker's presence will be felt.  It might just be an trick of the lights and eerie music, or it might even be a full fledged run-in on Kane to eliminate him, but I think we'll get an idea of what's up with Taker on Sunday.  And if I were forced to wager, I'd lean towards the former (the gimmicky stuff seems more in line with the Taker's supernatural old school MO).

For all RAW's attempts to sell us on Orton creating an "All Evolution" WM main event by winning, or Booker "going back" to WM for a second year in a row, or Kane actually thinking he'll be feuding with someone other than Taker by WM20, I honestly think that at this point, the only option that wouldn't be flat-out suicide on the RAW side would be Goldberg.  And he's widely expected to be out of the company by April, so...

So we turn to SD!, where the major storyline is Chris Benoit, who took Brock Lesnar to the limit, and put the fear of god into the champ.  So Lesnar's boy, Paul Heyman, ordered that Benoit would never again receive a shot at the WWE Title as long as he was GM of SD!.  That meant keeping Benoit out of the Rumble Match, which Paul was willing and able to do... until he left a loophole open: John Cena needed a partner in a Rumble qualifying match, he selected Benoit, and the two won their way into the Rumble.  To get back at Benoit, Heyman forced him to enter #1.  So clearly, the storyline every fan in the universe would KILL to see play out is Benoit wins from #1 and goes onto have an awesome WMXX main event against the guy he's already worked great matches with, Brock Lesnar.  [Again, everybody but Vince, if you believe the hype.]

But winning from #1 is unreasonable, right?  Well, that's OK, because both John Cena and Kurt Angle could make very plausible winners, as well.  Especially Cena (who doesn't have a heel turn and a feud with Eddie staring him in the face).

Point is, there are a bunch of interesting criss-crossing storylines involved here, and it'll be neat just to see RAW and SD! guys in the same ring for the first time in a year... but there really are only about 3 possible winners.  Chris Benoit (entering #1), John Cena (entering ???), and Goldberg (entering #30).  If nothing else, that spacing means they should be able to keep a "possible winner" in there at all times, which is important to keeping things exciting and interesting...

Prediction: it's too freaking perfect a story not to tell.  So I say Benoit goes #1 to the end and wins.  And if there are any gods in the heavens above, all this crap about him going to RAW is just misinformation, and he'll go on to steal the show at Mania against Brock Lesnar.

That should be the entire card... I don't see much room in there to squeeze in another match, at least.  Probably RAW will get something extra on Heat (women's match?), but that'll be about it.  The 3 hour PPV itself, however, is already bursting with potential goodness.

If you miss the show, be sure to come on back to OO in the 11pm hour for my immediate post-show report, and then again on Monday for additional thoughts and fall-out in the usual OO columns...

Weekend Newsbites

  • I was a big fan of last night's SD!, and that's with me missing the entire first 25 minutes due to the exceptional incompetence of the employees at my local UPN affiliate.  Morons.  I'm assuming Rey/Palumbo and Tajiri/Kidman were good... what I saw was very solid, as well. 
     
    You can get full details right here.
     
  • Last night's show did a 3.6 rating, which is back up two-tenths from the week before.  A good strong showing for SD! heading into a PPV...
     
  • News out of TNA's Wednesday night show:
     
    The company announced to the talent that they intend to move forward now, without Hulk Hogan, and do a Sunday night, full price PPV in April.
     
    To get PPV distributors on board, they will need to put together a buffet of less-bankable wrestlers, and should be able to secure Sting, Lex Luger, Scott Hall, and a few others.  Kevin Nash might be a guy with an outside shot of making the show.
     
    But apparently, TNA's Master Plan is to have the biggest draw on the show be... get this....  Toby Keith.  Country music superstar Toby Keith.  The guy who does that hilarious "Boot in the Ass" song.

    In all seriousness, Keith is a big time star.  He also appeared on TNA's first broadcast, I think (or one of the first couple), and is a wrestling fan.  But I don't see a casual wrestling fan seeing "Toby Keith" on the bill and instantly buying the show.  Nor do a see any but the most ardent Toby Keith fans from seeing him on a wrestling PPV and buying the show to see one or two songs.
     
    Ideas for venues include running an army base rec hall somewhere in south, where TNA could be assured a good sized, and enthusiastically patriotic, crowd.

    Oh, and FYI, with Hogan out of the picture, TNA finally bowed to pressure from Panda Energy and brought Vince Russo back as a primary contributor to creative.
     
  • "WWE Originals" sold about 50,000 copies and debuted at #12 on the Billboard charts this week (which I think is a bit of a demotion from where JR had mentioned it might debut)...  not only do I suspect a goodly percentage of those folks will be nominally disappointed with their purchase (unless that bonus DVD really kicks ass or something), but as is the case with all WWE releases in the last few years, a HUGE drop-off is likely next week.  The fanatical element got their copy, and now, there probably aren't that many people who will be shopping Best Buy and suddenly struck by the urge to pick up that "WWE Originals" record they've been hearing so much about.
     
    Unless, of course, they had good success with the TV ads, and keep those in heavy rotation.  There is not better impulse buyer than the lazy ass with a cordless phone and a credit card....


  • SmackDown! will be on UPN through September 2006, at the very least.  Last February, WWE and Viacom did a deal where they restructured the way they were in business on SD! (WWE gave up control of the ad inventory and let UPN sell those spots in exchange for a weekly fee).  It was a long term deal, but one where UPN had options to pick up or not-renew SD! every year.
     
    Well, with the original deal, UPN picked up options through September 2005.  As of this week, they picked up another option year, taking SmackDown! through 2006 under the current arrangement.
     
    Even with SD!'s ratings severely eroded versus its peak numbers in '99 and 2000, it's still UPN's strongest ratings getter.  That said, if UPN doesn't find other strong-drawing series, it's entirely possible that this renewal through 2006 will outlast UPN as a network....
     
  • Chavo Guerrero was on TLC's "For Better or For Worse" this Wednesday night.  It's a show where somebody gets X number of dollars to throw a wedding or whatever, and they have friends and family help them.
     
    So anyway, on this show, Chavo was a friend of the groom's or something, and though he was referred to as a "pro wrestler" on the show, and mocked for skipping out to work house shows instead of helping with the wedding, WWE was never mentioned by name.  Hell, Chavo wasn't even "Chavo Guerrero" on the show.  He was just called "Sal."  [I believe I remember reading that Chavo is actually more accurately Salvadore "Chavo" Guerrero Jr.]
     
    I believe the show should be in repeats over the weekend on TLC, so keep an eye out.  Or if you'd just prefer a bit of a recap of what went down and what Chavo did, somebody let OO's Resident Broad have control of the remote long enough to watch some of her favorite girly stuff this week, and you can read her report in the OO Forums.
     
  • That's about it for me today.  READ THE YEAR IN REVIEW!  DON'T LET MY WORK GO TO WASTE!
     
    See you again on Sunday night with Rumble Recap, or Monday with the regular OO...
     

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.


  
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Bonding Exercises
 
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