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RAW with a Blockbuster?, Michaels' Knee,
Outsiders Reunited, and Other News...
February 23, 2004

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


You know...  I haven't really thought this through, but just considering two of our primary news items today, we've got kind of a time travel theme happening here today.  Monday night wars?  A certain somebody's smile being threatened on the eve of WM?  This is 2004, right?

Let's venture on, together, and see:

  • Tonight's RAW certainly will lean heavily on a feud that would have been at its hottest, oh, about six years ago....
    Tonight's "main event" -- or at least, the only match that is pre-announced at this point -- will pit Vince McMahon against Eric Bischoff.  And it won't be pretty.  But it just might be fun.
    They weren't shy last week about playing up elements of the old Monday Night War, and even if its just to move a few extra DVDs, more of the same should be forthcoming tonight.  Is Vince McMahon at his best as a babyface?  No.  Did this storyline evolve logically or sensibly?  Not really.  But are there vestiges of True Belief in fans who remember the war?  I think so...
    It was often posited back in the late 90s that "the only thing wrestling fans really believe any more is that the WWF and WCW hate each other."  And by extension, that Vince McMahon and Eric Bischoff hated each other.  Just because WWE bungled the inVasion and had Vince and Bischoff allied with each other once they got around to bringing Sleazy E in doesn't mean that there isn't a small part of us that, depending on our Brand Loyalty back in '97 and '98, want to see one or the other of these two guys put a period at the end of the sentence that was the Monday Night War.
    And if you DON'T care about that element, well, you'll probably still be OK tonight, since I'm sure that the nostalgia trip will only go so far.  Vince/Bischoff looks like its going to exist just as much to advance some other major storyline than it will exist on its own merits.
    In this case, we are talking specifically about Vince McMahon's promise to drop a "Bombshell Announcement" regarding WrestleMania 20.
    Now... to what conclusions do logic and good sense lead us?  Pretty simple: to Vince using tonight's announcement to acquiesce to Brock Lesnar's teary-eyed plea from SmackDown!, and announce a cross-brand Lesnar vs. Goldberg battle for WM20.  Depending on what whispers you want to put some stock in, you might also want to add in a dash of Steve Austin as Special Enforcer Referee for such a contest (that Spear from Goldberg 2 weeks ago, and Austin's promise that if he was gonna retaliate, he'd do it to Goldberg's face certainly seem to indicate Austin's gotta be involved somehow, since it's not looking like Goldberg will be around after WM20 to finish that dangling issue).
    Only problem is that Lesnar vs. Goldberg doesn't strike me as much of a bombshell.  If anything, it's sorta obvious, the kind of "bombshell" that could get Vince booed out of the ring mere moments before he's supposed to be the babyface against Bischoff.
    So does it become reasonable to entertain other, more outlandish scenarios involving your Bret Harts and Hulk Hogans and some kind of GENUINELY shocking addition to the WM20 line-up?  I don't know...  but I think I'd tend towards NOT getting too worked up about something like that, if only because then I can be pleasantly surprised if WWE does have an ace up its sleeve.  Hell, if I keep my expectations nice and low, I can be pleasantly surprised if Vince hops in the ring and announces the return of the Hall of Fame inductions, and mentions Jesse Ventura and Bobby Heenan's names (which might not be a bombshell, but I definitely think it'd get a nice pop from the crowd).
    At the end of the night, though, Vince, his announcement, and his match with Eric doesn't really help us with regard to any of RAW's WM20 storylines....  those'll have to be taken care of separately.
    The big one: Triple H worrying about the challenges of both Chris Benoit and Shawn Michaels.  Last week, HHH got Crossfaced for a bit, and then helped Michaels get a win over Benoit... only to hop in the ring and waylay HBK with a Pedigree.  Everybody hates everybody here: we got it.  Except for the fans, who have had an interesting little problem the last few weeks, whether to cheer more for Benoit or Michaels. 

    That's be a curious thing to keep an eye on again tonight: 2 weeks ago, Michaels was clearly the heel aggressor.  Last week, they tried to book Benoit to seem more like the heel in their one-on-one match, but by the end, Benoit was actually getting more cheers than HBK, so...  well, point is, I'm interested in seeing how those to act and interact, if one or the other steps up and takes on the tweener status, or if they both just do their thing and keep their eyes on the prize.
    Second Tale of Interest: Evolution vs. Mick Foley.  Last week's marathon beat-down on Mick drilled home the concept that Mick cannot fight Randy Orton, Batista and Ric Flair all by himself.  Loud and clear, thanks, WWE.  So he needs some back-up.  Everybody in the known universe is pretty sure that the Rock will be in to team up with Mick at WM20.  But the question is, When will he show up? I thought last week in California would have made some sense.  Radio ads in Atlanta are suggesting it could be next week.  But there's almost no good reason to think it might be tonight.  So, what the hell?  I didn't really buy into last week's beat-down, but what's done is done, and maybe the best thing to do would be to have Mick sell it by not showing up tonight on RAW.  Either that, or have him phone in some segment about going to look for a partner to help him...  but off the top of my head, I'm blanking on what you could do with Mick in the arena, without the Rock there with him.  Lord knows I have no desire to see another marathon punch-kick-fest...
    Plus, if Mick's not around, that might allow Evolution to get properly pissy about the tag title situation:  I understand why they got mad at Foley for losing the titles last week, but with the RAW tag division already in such a sad state, they need to come out this week and be mad at Booker T and Rob Van Dam, not at some surrogate.  Do a re-match, do singles matches, find somebody to go with Booker and RVD for a six man...  just SOMEthing.  Booker and RVD winning the tag titles was last week's biggest non-story.  It just didn't register on the radar, which is something the Fed oughta rectify tonight.
    Issue the third: Jericho, Trish, Christian.  I'm not sure what purpose it would serve to recap the last six months of this storyline, but the short version is that Jericho likes Trish, we're pretty sure Trish feels the same way, but they're still Just Friends, meaning the door was wide open the past few weeks for Christian to sneak in and make passes at the girl that he knows his buddy has a huge crush on because he's a jerk.  This has got to be heading towards Jericho vs. Christian at WM20, with Trish stuck in the middle somehow.  Which means that Jericho's gonna have to figure out sooner, rather than later, that Christian's being a jerk.  Maybe as soon as tonight.
    And the fourth big one: Kane will probably get to decimate somebody, grab a mic, and profess his lack of concern about the spooky supernatural stuff going on.  Only to have something spooky and supernatural happen while the Undertaker's old music plays.  I don't think there's really a whole lot of drama as far as the basic template goes...  the question that remains is will it be the Good Spooky or the Gay Spooky?  I'm on record thinking last week's thunderstorm was Gay Spooky, although I'd be remiss if I didn't point out that somebody -- in the post-RAW chat last Monday night -- proposed a way it could have been less gay: namely, having Taker's Thunderstorm strike so as to extinguish Kane's pyro (instead of randomly up on the stage).  Now THAT is a visual that would have been cool enough and symbolic enough to justify the silliness.  Probably logistically impossible, but that being the case, I wish they'd just leave the indoor weather alone altogether.
    Other issues: Victoria pinned Molly in a non-title setting for the second time in a month last week, so she's probably your top contender in the women's division; in a non-related development, a hard-hitting and informative article at WWE.com reports that Victoria has more new outfits like the one she wore last week ready to make their TV debuts....  Stevie Richards vs. Test is threatening to become a viable Monday night issue, if only because of Victoria's burgeoning popularity...  and if anyone actually counts Heat, then Matt Hardy's losing streak ended last night, so I wonder if they have another plan for Version 1.0 now that that storyline won't work?  I also find myself wondering if they have anything in mind for playing off the fact that the Dudleys are now the ones on the losing streak (two Heats in a row to Jindrak/Cade)....
    Even if it's only to see if Vince can really bust some blocks, tonight's RAW looks like it'll be worth a look-see....  but if you happen to miss out, just come on back here tomorrow for the Full Report.
  • The final rating for last week's SD!: a 3.5, just about where I expected it'd settle.  No surprises.
    Where there was a bit of a surprise: in Battle of the Brands, where RAW actually was named the winner on more ballots...  but once the ratings were averaged, SD! was the winner because it had been picked by a wider margin on its winning ballots.  Oh, the Fabricated Controversy!  You know you're just dying from the drama!
    Check last week's detailed Battle of the Brands Results.
  • Another flashback vibe here... 

    Apparently, Shawn Michaels is dealing with a serious knee situation.  All I had heard was a little something from RAW tapings last week that Michaels was a little gimpy backstage and not at 100%.  But the Wrestling Observer is now reporting that Michaels has a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), and has been working through it since suffering the injury on RAW's Japan tour.  Which is a little different from "a little gimpy."
    It was 7 years ago this month that a knee injury provided the primary (on-screen) impetus for Shawn Michaels giving his famous "I Lost My Smile" speech, vacating the WWF Title, and forcing the Fed to shuffle its planned WrestleMania line-up (where all signs had pointed to Michaels being scheduled to lose the title to Bret Hart).
    No fears this year, though: you saw what Michaels was able to do last Monday against Benoit on his supposedly shredded knee, and nobody's saying anything about Michaels wanting out of the WM title picture at this point.
    I guess if the Observer report is correct, a post-WM surgery is something Michaels would have to submit to, though...  and unless it's the mildest of partial tears, we'd basically be looking at being minus HBK until the autumn of 2004.  Which is kind of a pisser.
    Surgery may NOT be required, though.  Again, the way Michaels looked last Monday and the fact that I (even my usual few rungs lower down the foodchain than Meltzer) didn't get anything other than "gimpy knee" sort of makes me hold out hope things aren't THAT bad.  If you think back to last year at this time, everybody was patting Victoria on the back for working through a knee injury so she could drop the women's title at WM19 and then go get surgery...  but it was a surgery that she never got.  A relaxed schedule and intensive rehab got her healthy without six months completely on the shelf.  I think hers was a partial-tear thing, too, but I can't remember if it was the ACL or MCL (the MCL is nowhere near as bad, which is maybe why she had a non-surgical option).
    Anyway, this is hopefully nothing that will effect us as we approach WM20... and then if the gods really are smiling down, we'll re-assess things after the big show and find out that we don't have to give up HBK for most of the rest of the year....  we'll see....
  • Even as there is reason to fear the worst on one front, a silver lining appears.  Granted, not a silver lining for Michaels, but more for us fans...
    Edge is preparing to resume in-ring workouts and expects to be fully cleared for action within the next month.  It's not even out of the question that he could be on TV before WM20 (starting out in a non-active capacity), but more than likely, this is a deal where his role and the timing of his return is dictated by creative issues.  And to that end, I would encourage creative to worry about WM20 first, and then once it's past, figure out what to do with Edge, instead of trying to rush him back out on to TV at the expense of a PPV feud.
    Also: as recently as 2 or 3 weeks ago, there were still grumblings that RAW wanted to steal Edge away from SD!, that they felt they had a bigger need for him.  Well, until this Michaels news hit, I was categorizing those grumblings as asinine.  Even with the Michaels news, I still only see the slightest glimmer of good sense to flopping Edge: there's just too perfect an opening for a top level babyface on SD! (basically, the spot Angle has vacated), although one could easily argue that losing Goldberg and Michaels after WM would hurt RAW to the point where they could use Edge...  we'll have to wait and see.
  • Speaking of approaching WM20...  WWE has launched the official WM20 website, and have essentially confirmed five matches so far.
    Obviously, you've got the two big title matches (HHH/HBK/Benoit and Eddie/Angle).  They've also got the Big Show/Cena US Title match agreed to last week.  But additionally, they have two slot being taken up by the less-specifically labeled "The Dead Shall Rise Again" and "Lesnar Wants Goldberg," with descriptions that amount to "As soon as they make these official on TV, we'll already have these up on the website, and we'll only have to change a few words."
    Again, it's a deal where it's certainly nothing shocking -- since everybody with half a brain has been expecting Goldberg/Lesnar and Kane/Taker -- but I guess I do find it odd that the Fed would be motivated to put anything up there at all, when they could have just limited it to the three confirmed matches and added more over time...
    To go with those five matches, you can expect formal announcements for: Rock/Foley vs. Evolution, Jericho vs. Christian, Rey vs. Chavo (or POSSIBLY a gauntlet/battle royal style CW match), and Torrie/Sable vs. Jackie/Stacy.  That's nine, all pretty much confirmed as on the books, and note: neither brand's tag titles nor the women's title are on the line, yet.  To round out the show, the likely match-ups would be Victoria/Molly, WGTT/Scotty&Rikishi, and RVD&Booker/Jindrak&Cade.  And that's 12 matches....
    Not workable, you say?  I must protest...  turns out I mis-interpreted those rumors a few months back, and that "five hours of satellite time" was NOT inclusive of one hour of Heat along with the (now-traditional) four hour WM PPV.  Nope.  WrestleMania 20, the PPV proper and not Heat, starts at 7pm and runs through midnight.
    There is also the usual canned PPV pre-show starting at 6:30, but at this time, no indications of what SpikeTV's gonna do about Heat.  But the point is, whether or not a rescheduled Heat supplies WWE with a sixth hour, I think there's room for 12 matches.  A couple of 'em (the Playboy battle, the RAW tag match) could be kept nice and short, too...  and you'll have time aplenty for all the pomp and circumstance and flashbacks and legends that will be appropriate for such a show.  
    Five hours.  Man.  Maybe six, if they're doing Heat.  You know what, actually?  I don't know if WWE has this kind of stroke, anymore, but what might be cool is to pull a few strings and get SpikeTV to run a noon-to-six marathon on WM Sunday, using that "All Day Long" retrospective from WM2000 as the basic foundation for a full days worth of WM highlights.  Then at six, you do a one hour Heat that's maybe live at MSG, but which is basically just one hour of hype for this year's matches.  Because I'll be honest with you: between six and seven, even if it is WM20 weekend, I'm watching the Selection Sunday special to see where my Flyers are going...  then at 7 it's back to wrestling.  Talk about a day of wallowing in my own crapulance!
  • As we talked about last week, UPW (Ultimate Pro Wrestling) held a huge show in Anaheim over the weekend, which featured the reunion of the Outsiders, Scott Hall and Kevin Nash.
    Hall and Nash played a little wink-wink with the crowd, saying heelish things like how they were so bored backstage (cuz Hall can't drink) that they wanted to come out here and get this over with in the middle of the show... and they still got cheered.  In fact, when Hall and Nash lost (clean) to Christopher Daniels and Tom Howard, the crowd booed.  The match was the main selling point of the show, and was a very passable 12 minute affair.  Hall and Nash did some post-match shtick, as well, to make sure anyone who came out to see them got their money's worth.
    Also on the show: Vince McMahon made a cameo/videotape appearance following Rick Bassman's win over Pete Doyle in a match where Bassman regained control of UPW with his win (Vince "fired" Doyle, or something; mostly just a nice touch for Vince to tape the piece for use on the 5th anniversary show of a quasi-affiliated territory)...  keeping with the WWE-theme, Ivory jobbed to UPW Women's Champ Erica Porter (who OO Man on the Scene AlKnows says was formerly known as Jungle Grrrrl in WOW, giving me an excuse to make my bi-annual query, "Where the hell is Terri Gold?") in a very entertaining match...  Jimmy Snuka got a token squash win...  Ken Shamrock and Sylvester Terkay did a double DQ thing (a pro wrestling ending to a match that was worked very stiff and shoot-y)...  and in the main event, Frankie Kanzarian beat Jerry Lynn and Evan Karagias to retain the UPW Lightweight Title.
    Very well-received show, and an audience that might have been brushing up against 2000... which is remarkable considering it's a moral victory any time WWE can put more than 3000 fans in a building for a non-televised event.
  • Remember how last week, Joanie "Chyna" Laurer was scheduled to debut for NWA-TNA, but was a late scratch?  Well, you probably don't want to hold your breath for her showing up any time soon...
    The story goes that Chyna agreed to the terms of a deal, but when it came time to finalize travel plans last week, she stumped for a 1st Class ticket, TNA said "Uh, no," and that was the end of that.  She may have shot herself in the foot, because all signs point to TNA adopting a "she had one strike, and that was it" policy, here.
  • Then again, maybe that will change...  TNA's not been doing a great job sticking to policies or plans.  The latest casualty: the April 4 PPV date.  Axe it.  Not gonna happen.
    With nothing on paper with Randy Savage, with nobody exactly sure what Roddy Piper's deal is (in fact, the thing with Chyna was designed to give Johnny Fairplay somebody to feud with, because TNA was no longer confident that their original idea for a Fairplay/Piper feud would materialize), and with Kevin Nash apparently not returning their phone calls, TNA is having a hard time putting together a package that would be worth the Sunday night, full-price effort.  Wrestling PPVs do not sell on the strength of Toby Keith alone.
    Just cool your jets, TNA...  in another month, you'll be able talk to Goldberg!  And more than like, strike out with him, just like you have with everybody else.... Dare to dream!
  • Remember a month ago when I said that I was surprised that WWE was using the RAW brand to stage its first-ever show in Mexico, on the grounds that SD! has so many other guys with lucha backgrounds?  Well, it turned out that RAW's actually on TV in Mexico, and SD! isn't, so it made perfect sense, afterall...
    But: when the RAW crew heads down to Monterrey on April 3, it'll be with a little help.  Chavo Guerrero vs. Rey Mysterio is a lock for the RAW show, with the cruiserweight title presumably on the line should one of those two be holding it at the time.
  • I think that's about enough for today.  
    Before I go, a quick thanks to those who apparently sniffed a tinge of desperation or frustration or something in my final bullet point on Friday... and who mailed in to either say that the Dynamite Kid/Matilda/peanut butter line was way funnier than cribbing quotes from "Airplane" or say that they totally understood what I intended when I said "gay-spooky" or even say that I should just grow a sac and quit apologizing and rationalizing because anyone who'd complain about the "gay-spooky" is an idiot.  It was all appreciated.  And in retrospect, man alive, that did end up being a way longer ramble than I'd probably envisioned it originally, so I can see why you felt like I need the encouragement.  Oh well...
    I've got no raging insecurities to get out of my system today, so let's just wrap it up and make a date for... oh, let's say tomorrow for the RAW Recap, OK?  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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