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Austin Troubles, DDP's Comeback,
Diva Stuff, Requisite RAW Fall-out, More!
April 7, 2004

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


Alright, I know I usually start out here with something funny and interesting, but today, I have a question.  A real one, this is not rhetorical.

So I'm watching "The Daily Show" and Letterman last night, both with Bruce Willis and Whichever Friend That Is as guests, and it struck me: WHO IN THE BLUE HELL DECIDED WE NEEDED "THE WHOLE TEN YARDS"?  Please, help me out, here...

The first movie was kinda cute and funny, sure, but it didn't exactly scream for further elaboration, nor do I remember it being particularly successful (I only saw it once it hit HBO). Do they have monkeys out there making greenlight decisions in Hollywood, now?  What's next, "BASEketball II: The Wrath of Costas"? Man alive....

If you know the answer, fill me in.  In advance of your help, I'll tell you some stuff I know.  You know, about the wrestling:

  • It looks like Steve Austin picked the wrong week to start playing hardball.
    In the opening stages of a contract extension negotiation that was expected to stretch out over the next few months, Austin and his new representation apparently rubbed WWE management (read: Vince McMahon) the wrong way last week.  Austin's team wants "The Rock Deal," where Austin can control his name and likeness without cutting WWE in on the action.  WWE, already a bit salty that Austin went and got himself into a domestic situation right when the company REALLY did not need any more bad press, wasn't about to roll over.
    Now, the situation is not nearly as dire as I'm guessing it's been made out to be elsewhere.  The "OMG, is Austin really done with WWE?" e-mails are a bit melodramatic, to say the least.  Yes, Austin was off TV this week, and yes, this was the reason.  Yes, even before last week's flare up, RAW's creative had reduced Austin's role since WM20 in anticipation of the start of this negotiation period because that would give the company a bit more leverage.  But contrary to what you've been reading, Austin and WWE aren't through with each other.
    The two sides continue to talk, and in fact, I believe Austin was at SD! tapings last night.  Even though they were in his hometown, I'm sure he wasn't just there saying "Howdy," either.
    And even if you did choose to believe the more dramatic versions of the story, you oughta remember what happened two years ago, when Austin basically walked out on the company.  WWE even went so far as the drag the Rock out to smear Austin's name a little bit.  But nine months later, what happened?  That's right, the two sides realized that making money together was more important than not making money apart, so they got back in bed.  There are few situations I could imagine in which "Steve Austin will never appear in WWE again" would be a statement into which I'd put even a nickel's worth of credence.  And this isn't one of them.
    So: things did apparently flare up last week as a result of the convergence of Austin's team making unexpected demands of WWE with WWE not thinking Austin deserved a whole lot of extra consideration given that he's causing the company headaches with his police record.  But the damage is not irreparable.
    I'm not sure exactly how things will sort themselves out, but I'm confident they will.  Austin's team wants to be able to attach "Stone Cold's" name to stuff without passing it by WWE, that's the main bone of contention.  With the Rock recently announcing that he's won the rights to keep "The Rock" nickname after his current WWE deal expires next year, I guess that's a reasonable request.  It'd mean that Austin could pursue things like his "Stone Cold Beer" without having the Fed monkeying with the deal.
    But obviously, the Fed wants to keep getting paid off any any use of Austin's likeness, and they'll resist such an arrangement.  If anything, I'd say leverage has swung around to them the last few weeks since Mania.  In anticipation of something like this, Austin's on-screen role has diminished (to zero this week), while ratings hit record levels.  The Fed is in a position to say, "Look: you need WWE more than WWE needs you."  I'm not saying whether that's true or not, I'm just saying that the last few weeks give WWE the evidence they need to make such a claim and force Austin's hand a bit.  And again: Austin having this wife-beater reputation hanging over his head can't help his position, either...  being a PR liability is a HUGE minus during a contract negotiation, and that's exactly what Austin is right now.
    It'll be an interesting scenario to watch play out, but I'm guessing -- just like a few years ago -- both sides will eventually realize there's more to be had by getting together on a deal than there is by being hard-asses.  Bottom line: whatever you may have read, Austin is NOT done with WWE, and if I had to wager a guess, I'd say he'd be back on TV by Summer.
  • Speaking of Austin's domestic situation...  there have been a few more details emerging on that front.  However, they've been emerging from sources like the National Enquirer, so they probably should come with the full shaker of salt.
    Some of the news seems to paint Austin as the good guy in the deal.  Some goes 180 degrees the other direction.  For instance, there are reports that Austin is the one who wanted to break off the relationship, and to smooth things over, he offered his girlfriend some cash to get on with her life, but she refused to break it off and then "squatted" in Austin's house, forcing Austin to move into an apartment in San Antonio, and attempts by Austin to divest himself of her is what led to the incident 2 weeks ago.  
    But on the other hand, there's also stuff in there about Austin cheating on his girlfriend before deciding he wanted to break it off and, even though her "injuries" from the incident 2 weeks ago seemed inconsequential, there may have been past instances of real violence for Austin should be held accountable.
    Again, my instinct is to just stick with noting that police have NOT charged Austin with anything stemming from this latest incident, which kind of makes me think he probably didn't do anything wrong.  Whether he did anything wrong in the past or whether his girlfriend is an utter psycho, I don't know... but you can read about it in the upcoming round of tabloids next time you're waiting in the check-out line at Kroger, if you really want.
  • While Austin's career is at an impasse, another man's might be on the upswing.  Dallas Page, who was forced into a retirement by a back/neck injury just about 2 years ago, is attempting a comeback.
    He says he's settled his situation with Lloyd's of London, and is now free to do whatever he wants.  And since he's got "the itch" back, he gonna go ahead and try to hop back in the ring.  Though he left WWE on good terms, all Page is looking at now is getting his feet wet with some indie gigs.
    I always kind of felt that after his one run (as a heel, which the Fed didn't exactly handle expertly), given his age, Page's value to WWE would be as a commentator/personality... but then I look at Ric Flair, and I put the "pushing 50" jokes on the back burner.  If you're still good at what you do and can still pop a crowd, what the hell difference does it make?
    And further, I don't care what number Page is pushing if it means his wife can tag along for a WWE ride.  Kimberly was the original Playboy Wrestling Babe, and I'm sure she's still mighty good at what she does and can pop (among other things) a crowd.  I couldn't believe Vince didn't sign her up 3 years ago along with DDP, to be honest....  there's nothing but dollar signs, there, I tells ya.
    It'll be interesting to follow Page's comeback and see where it lands him.  You can get the full announcement/commentary from Page at his official website, DDPBang.com.
  • Speaking of Playboy and wrestling babes and dollar signs...
    As expected, Torrie Wilson won the "Diva Challenge," and will be on the cover of the next Diva Mag that comes out in 2 weeks.  Gail Kim, despite not being on TV since November, put up a valiant fight, and made it to the finals against Torrie by sheer force of her cover being significantly hotter than Torrie's.  But I'm sure the fix was in.  Torrie's on TV every week, and was in Playboy, and mostly, I just can't imagine that the vote was really a shoot given the time table: somebody in publishing tell me, could Torrie have won this vote and have the magazine printed up, distributed, and on newsstands in 2 weeks?  
    Given my own limited knowledge of the publishing business, that doesn't seem reasonable...
  • I got another quick little Diva thing here while I'm thinking of it...
    So I was strolling through the OO Forums a week or so ago, and stumbled across a Molly Holly thread in the divas section.  It devolved into a debate over how hot Molly is, and a popular view was "You're just saying Molly's hot because she's regular and average and you think you'd have a shot with her, but she's not really even close to as hot as the other divas."  Or something: I'm paraphrasing and maybe even misremembering a bit.  At the time, I pondered actually replying, because I thought it was a pretty shitty thing to say.  "Hey, baby, your friend over there is so hot and can do better, but you look pretty desperate, so how about giving me a try?"  It all seemed very silly, but I recused myself from replying on the grounds that trying to dictate personal taste is fruitless.
    And then I got some e-mails the past few days that changed my mind.  Forget trying to find something flattering to say about Molly, my new favorite thing about her is, in fact, that she's clearly desperate and I should have a shot with her.
    To wit:  in the "celebrity crushes" section of WWE.com's "backdoor" section, you have a few WWE stars making pretty standard picks.  Alyssa Milano this, Jennifer Love Hewitt that.  And then they ask Molly who her celebrity crush is and she says.... Jay.  Of "Jay and Silent Bob" fame.  Whoa.  I'm not great judge of masculine appeal or anything, but that can't be right, can it?  I think Lillian Garcia was the only other diva polled, and she picked Viggo Mortensen, which I'm manly enough to admit that I understand.  But Jay?  
    If that's what Molly likes, I'll gladly turn off the filter between my brain and my mouth that allows me to be a functioning, non-perpetually-getting-punched member of society.  And I'll showcase the resulting endearing crudity WITHOUT a vaguely rodent-like appearance, to boot!
    Oh, and Shelton Benjamin's Celebrity Crush?  Molly Holly.  Hop to it, dude: I think you got it made in the shade.  The competition doesn't look too stiff.
  • I guess before I did the Diva Segue, I should probably have made another DDP note... cuz even though I got off on some pointless rambling there, we're not done with the real news for today.  
    A few readers have passed along word over the last week or so that Dallas Page is up for part in Rob Zombie's "The Devil's Rejects" (a sequel to "House of a Thousand Corpses).
    Actually, Page has been going around saying he's GOT the part but I guess that's not quite true.  Yet.  But it might be.  Maybe.
    Just another thing to consider as we keep an eye on DDP's career path these next few weeks and months.
  • Another Dubious Movie News Item: OO Reader Hurricane M. sent along word that some movie preview site has a listing for "Mortal Kombat 3" that lists Trish Stratus as playing the role of Sonya Blade.
    As a guy who spent more than a few nights in college breaking in the brand new Sega Genesis with marathon Circle of Death Sessions of "Mortal Kombat II" while under the effects of pharmaceutical enhancement, and enjoyed it so much that I was disappointed when the Mortal Kombat movie came out and sucked, I just have one thing to say: They're up to a "Mortal Kombat 3" movie?  Really?  When was #2?  That's almost as baffling as "The Whole Ten Yards"... I don't remember it.  Was it straight to video?
    That said, Trish would fit the part, I think, if the third MK movie really ever goes into production... and if she's really under consideration for the part.  This is the first I've heard about either, though.
  • If you're interested and have somehow missed them elsewhere on the site, the spoilers for tomorrow's SmackDown! are right here (along with spoilers for Easter weekend B-shows that you might be missing as a result of the holiday).  Check 'em out, if you want.
  • On Monday afternoon, Ric Flair attended a Republican fund-raiser in North Carolina... and he got singled out for praise by President George Bush during a speech.
    Flair is active for the Republican party in his home state, and as you might recall, briefly toyed with the idea of running for office a few years back.
    It really wasn't a huge part of Bush's speech or anything, but even getting a token mention from the President of the United States is pretty freaking neat whether you like the guy or not.  I just gotta wonder, in this day and age of ultra-orchestrated political correctness, if Bush had been briefed on exactly what Flair was up to on a certain plane trip about two years ago...
  • And speaking of Monday, I again enjoyed RAW.  Maybe not quite as much as the previous two weeks, but it was still a pretty solid top-to-bottom effort.  And more importantly, it really set the stage for what should be another huge show next week.
    Foley's promo was the stand-out segment of the night, to me, and is my favorite promo of the year, so far.  Just a great story and expertly told.  I was also a fan of how they wove Shelton Benjamin into the mix without detracting from HHH's issues with Benoit and Michaels.  I'm not sure Benjamin was a smooth as he could be on the stick (like Trish the week before, I was struck by the idea that he had good material and knew what he had to say, but due to nerves was kind of delivering it in a less than totally natural way), but the kid's just so gosh-darned likeable, especially when he flashes that smile, that fans popped in all the right spots, anyway.
    Next week, he'll get to partner up with the Big Boys to face Evolution, which should not only be a tremendous match, but which should also facilitate keeping Benjamin involved in something important near the top of the card.  Good stuff.
    A fun show, a notch down from previous weeks for sure, but very effective at what it had to do.  You can get the full report and my more detailed analysis in yesterday's OO RAW Recap.
  • The rating for Monday's show...  a 3.8.  That's the second straight big drop for RAW, and puts the show pretty much back near its 2004-to-date average.  The interest generated by the Lottery has officially been pissed away.
    Or has it?
    Monday was also the NCAA Championship Game on CBS.  And obviously, that appeals to a pretty big portion of WWE's mostly young male audience.  So maybe this was just a one-week dip, and next week, some of the Lottery gains will be back watching RAW?
    It's possible, but I wouldn't hold my breath.  Monday's basketball game was a blow-out, and I think I flipped to it maybe all of two times.  I think most wrestling fans SHOULD have been more intrigued by RAW.  Also, the NCAA game did the worst rating ever for a Final, so that should have also meant more viewers free to watch RAW if they wanted.
    We'll see.
  • I guess there's just one more thing I want to do today... it's probably obligatory, actually, since to this day any friend I made more than 5 or 6 years ago (or who met me through one of those college friends) still calls me "Mister Nirvana" or some derivative there of.
    Actually, I gather that the magic of forensic science has changed the official date of Kurt Cobain's death to either yesterday or Monday (my DVR already captured a bunch of stuff from MTV2, at least, so I'm assuming they've shot their wad and it's because the official day has passed).  But to me, it's always April 8, the day they found the body and the day I got back from class and heard about it, that I'll remember.  So tomorrow makes 10 years.  I even thought it might be kind of cute to do an "OOld School" tomorrow where I dragged out whatever I wrote and posted to the net after Cobain's suicide... but then I found what I wrote 10 years ago, and it ain't cute.  It's just really hyper-dramatic and sappy. I clearly wasn't the calloused, cynical ass then that I am today. And I've put a lot of effort into developing this calloused, cynical ass persona, so back to the bottom of the drawer with that floppy disk, never to be seen again.
    April 8 is also reason for me to remember something else.  And I'm not just talking about how much I loathe Courtney Love.  Turns out tomorrow will also (probably-not-so-)coincidentally mark NINE years since my friend Dave's death.  If hearing Nirvana in high school helped get me out of my classic rock funk and realize that new music could be good, knowing Dave in college is what really helped me think I could learn guitar and be in a band, which has been even more important to the guy I've become.  At a time when all I had was a ridiculously weenie-rific three-quarter-scale Traveling Wilburys guitar and the ability to ALMOST hammer out the comically-easy opening riff to "Teen Spirit," Dave encouraged me and my friend Eric to form a band and get up on stage.  No matter how bad we sucked, he was always there urging us on.  And we sucked BAD.  But he even took the time to know our songs and (pretend, at least) to have a favorite.  It was called "Twelve G's on the LD" (don't even ask why), and as bad as we might have been, it's the one song from that band that I still sit down and pluck out on guitar, sometimes.  Just because.  I've since gotten to play in good bands -- and it's not without a lot of discomfort that I admit my favorite one was when I got to play guitar for Dave's band BlueKid after his death -- and have had great times doing so.   But I doubt I'd ever have made it there if not for the man we called "Highway."  And it's always kind of annoyed me that Dave wasn't around long enough to know that I actually did get good, eventually, and that his encouragement was not for nothing.  
    To bring it all back around, Dave was also the guy who first started calling me "Mister Nirvana," and had no idea THAT was gonna stick around well past the point of it making even a lick of sense, either.  I'm just glad his campaign several months later to re-name me "Mr. Pearl Jam" failed miserably....
    Thus ends The Rick's Two-Pronged Hopefully-Neither-Too-Sappy-Nor-Too-Calloused Non-Wrestling Tribute.  Cobain's Ten Year Anniversary put this in the mainstream media, and thus, in the front of my mind this April 8...  hope you don't mind the digression.
    Assuming I can drag myself to coherence after the annual barricading of myself into my basement with a guitar, a bottle, and a bunch of CDs tomorrow night, I'll be back at you again with the usual Weekend Rasslin' News on Friday...  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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