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Bret and Angle News, New Experience,
Funking Around, RAW Free Per View, More!
May 3, 2004

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


You know, I really didn't mean to start a whole second round of this crap, but...  to everybody who caught my mention of Mint Juleps on Friday, and mailed in to equate that (to quote one reader) to "putting lime in your beer, minus your remaining half testicle," I can only gawk, slack-jawed and nonplussed.  Either people are still WAY salty over that month-old riffing I did, or I'm dealing with a baffling amount of ignorance, here...

Do you people even know what a Mint Julep is, or are you just assuming "it's got mint in it, and that's KIND OF like fruit, so Scaia's obviously a pansy and full of shit"?  I'll tell you what: let's hang out sometime, you Corona-with-Lime advocates, and I'll fix you up some Juleps.  If, after the second one, your lightweight ass is even still ambulatory, I'll gladly listen to your misguided ramblings.  Until then, though: zip it.  You know not what you speak.

Trust me.  I knows my booze.  But you're here because I knows my wrestling.  So here:

  • After using it as an example of the "Free Per View" concept in my Friday column, you'd best believe that I'm stoked for tonight's RAW.  Headlined by a Chris Benoit vs. Shawn Michaels World Title Match, there are prospects for a Match of the Year contender, and also for major storyline developments.
    Might Michaels go heel as a way of keeping this singles feud viable through to the June PPV?  How does Triple H figure in to the mix, since he can count his remaining weeks on TV (before going off to film a movie) on one hand and have a finger or two left over?  Does any of this, strictly-speaking, matter so long as HBK and Benoit give us 20-plus minutes of goodness?
    I don't think that tonight's RAW will take the crown of "Best Free Per View Show Ever" away from the September SD! that featured the Iron Man Match last year...  but like that SD! (which massively overshadowed the RAW-only PPV that month), tonight's RAW is looking like it might be this month's biggest show.  Benoit vs. Michaels, or Eddie vs. Fricking Bradshaw?  You make the call.  And if you're coming up with an answer different than mine, I'd love to hear your reasons why.  Well, not really, but I'll feign interest long enough to distract you so that the men in white coats can sneak up behind you and put you safely away....
    All I know is that the Fed would have to try mega hard to screw up a show that has Michaels vs. Benoit on top in a World Title match.  You could serve me up 90 minutes of Kane making Smoochy Faces at Lita, and Benoit/Michaels dominating the final quarter of the show would probably be enough to bring me back around.
    And speaking of those other 90 minutes, tonight...
    HHH's outro might be tied into Benoit/Michaels, but the Fed has also been not at all shy about teasing the End of Evolution.  Or at least, an Evolution of Evolution.  HHH doesn't have the World Title; Flair/Batista have lost the tag belts; and Randy Orton's under siege from seemingly both Shelton Benjamin and Edge.  Hell, Edge and Benoit have even cut about two week's worth of promos hyping the concept of killing Evolution once and for all.  Evolution's State of Flux remains just as viable a storyline this week as it was when I pimped a couple different directions it might go.  It's something to keep an eye on, especially considering HHH's limited availability after the next month or so.
    Orton and the IC belt could well be the lynchpin of a HHH-less Evolution, and like I said, in the last two weeks, he's been attacked by both Shelton and Edge...  but it's looking like maybe the thing with Edge was just to set up the partnership with Benoit, and Orton/Benjamin is the feud they'll be running with.  I still say this whole situation could have been handled more elegantly, and it would even have been more interesting if it was Shelton and Edge together as tag champs, now, but...  well, you've already heard my piece there, so I'll shut up and just say that if it's done right, Shelton vs. Orton could have very much the same vibe that Lesnar vs. Cena had last summer (and that Rock vs. HHH had lo those many years ago): namely, that it's the start of something big.  I guess, all my criticisms aside, that ain't too shabby.
    The aforementioned Kane is in a precarious spot: they are obviously trying to revitalize him, which is good.  But the way they went about it last week makes me VERY nervous.  As I've discussed at length in the past, nobody has put up with more crap in terms of his character's development than Glen Jacobs, and I just hope that I'm misreading things, and we are NOT in for a phase of Horny Monster Kane resulting in month-long atrocities akin to the corpse-humping of 2002 or the testicle-electrifying of 2003.
    Hey, here's an idea that might not suck: Matt and Lita are obviously getting back together, so Matt challenges Kane to another match to defend his woman's honor.  Same result, though: Matt takes a beating, until...  Jeff Hardy for the save!  But not really!  He immediately attacks Matt!  Kane looks on in bemusement, and then Jeff actually... goes up to Kane and shakes his hand.  A promo the next week or later in the show reveals that Jeff Hardy knows exactly what Kane's going through: girls (over the age of 13, in Jeff's case) won't talk to him, nobody understands his complex personality, and his stupid brother always gets all the breaks.  Together, they form the basis of a heel Freak Faction.  I don't know who else you'd put in there (one other guy would be enough, somebody to tag up with Jeff, although if they hadn't axed Daffney, I'd also have been a fan of putting a chick in the group, too), but 3 years after I fantasy booked it, I STILL have a hard-on for the idea of Raven being the mind manipulating Kane....
    Another secondary-level storyline that's on a slower simmer: Chris Jericho vs. Christian, Trish, and Tomko.  I kind of thought they'd pull Matt and Lita in on the babyface side to even things out, here, but no dice.  Jericho, as yet, has no allies here.  I think the clear-cut next step is a Tomko/Jericho one-on-one match, since other variations have been done, already... the question is How long till we get there?
    Other issues: tag titles take a back seat this week because Benoit's dealing with Michaels, but eventually, RAW's gonna have to put some thought into sorting out that division... women's division is easy: Molly vs. Victoria is it, and the only complicated part will be making sure Molly doesn't seem so bad-ass that she gets cheered by fans other than ones like me (hint: proper use of Henchwoman Gail Kim is probably the best way to accomplish this)...  and we are one week away from Eugene's in-ring debut against La Resistance's Rob Conway, which means we'll either get more hilarious hijinx at the Frenchies' expense, or (even better, if you ask me) Training Vignettes with Eugene and Regal.
    You may join in my enthusiasm if you wish, as I'm really looking forward to tonight's show.  Or you can be a hard sale, and watch something else tonight.  No skin off my nose.  But I'll say this: you'll come on back here to OO tomorrow, and you'll have no choice but to get the Full Results and Analysis from the show in the OO RAW Recap.  No choice, I say!  OO's got your back, baby...
  • Kurt Angle was the subject of slightly more e-mails than Mint Juleps over the weekend... and a common sentiment was that it sounds like maybe Kurt would be better served to just retire from wrestling.
    As discussed Friday, Angle has scheduled his third neck surgery in the past year for early this month, and has designs on being back in the ring by August.  I certainly can't find any good way to spin "three neck surgeries in a year," and I think it's cool that so many fans are apparently understanding of that and would rather see a relatively healthy Kurt retire now than get back in line for surgeries #4, #5, or beyond...
    But I'm also greedy and selfish enough to want more Kurt Angle matches for posterity, and diabolically-minded enough to rationalize it by saying "Hey, Kurt knows his body, and Kurt has doctors who are paid to know his body, so if they say this is gonna be OK, who am I to second guess them?"...  if I was going to second-guess anything about Kurt, it might be that this experimental surgical procedure he tried out wasn't the right one for him: if he'd just had the standard fusion surgery, he might well be staging a massive comeback right about now after a year lay-off, but he might also be doing it with a neck as sturdy and reliable as Chris Benoit's has been for the last two years.  But, well, second guessing is not for me...
    So I'm torn:  I would want Kurt to get out if he wasn't gonna be safe in a wrestling ring.  But I honestly have to think he's a smart guy and wouldn't be going for another fix-up surgery and attempted comeback if it wasn't safe.  It probably makes me a bad person, but I'm not gonna feel guilty at all getting excited for Kurt's next matches, be they in 3 months or whenever.
    Again, the timetable: Kurt will probably have to be written off of SD! in the next week or two, because even in the non-wrestling GM role, he'd miss a minimum of a couple weeks of TV tapings.  Whether they do it by completely pulling Kurt out of the GM role, or if they just give him an excuse to be MIA for a few weeks, I don't know...  and then, the plan is to have Kurt back as a wrestler by August, with a resumption of hostilities with Eddie Guerrero a very real possibility either at or immediately following SummerSlam.
  • Kurt also made a pretty big splash over the weekend for something completely unrelated to his injuries...
    A late-week appearance on TSN's "Off the Record" featured Angle talking about many things... but the one that jumped off the screen and got people stoked to e-mail in was a closing comment by Kurt in which he AMPLIFIED (instead of backing off of) a friendly challenge to Bret Hart.
    You'll remember it was last year when Kurt first mentioned that he'd love to face Bret in a major WrestleMania match.  There are a million reasons why that really can't happen, but it didn't stop jeans from being creamed among a certain segment of wrestling fans before sanity could be restored by pundits such as Yours Truly.
    So now Kurt has to go and do it again...  asshole.
    He put Bret over massively, called him just about the best ever, and said that his (Kurt's) aspirations to be the best ever means that he'd love to test his mettle against Bret's.  He thinks the two could do amazing things in a special WrestleMania match down the line.
    But then, AND LISTEN UP PEOPLE, Kurt himself softened things by saying he didn't mean this as a challenge or anything, because he respected Bret too much to grandstand like that.  He's just saying that if Bret's health would EVER allow him to step back in a wrestling ring, even if it was just for one match, it would be Kurt's honor and privilege to have that one match against Bret.  He made it clear he was speaking entirely in hypothetical terms.
    There are probably dozens of other guys who feel exactly the same way: that if Bret could ever comeback, they'd love to be his opponent.  Kurt's just the one who's actually saying it out loud.  And who's also good enough that we, as fans, can't shake the idea of how awesome a match it MIGHT be.
  • Ahhh, but Master of the Smooth Segue that I am, I'll point out the key word there is MIGHT.  I've talked about this before, and I guess some of you just refuse to believe it's true...  but it is.
    In personal appearances, including one over the weekend at an event across the state from me in Akron, OH, Bret Hart is clearly not a man in physical condition to wrestle.  He is not just much smaller, but as a result of his stroke he's also not really moving as quickly or nimbly as he once did.  I know at the event this weekend, Bret updated his condition and said that although he was getting better every day and was working hard to get back to as close to 100% as he possibly could, he still had serious problems with numbness on one entire side of his body.
    Is this stuff that'll keep Bret from a happy day-to-day existence?  Nah, not really.  But the way fans describe it, this is not a guy who would have any business in a wrestling ring. At least, not at this point.
    I hesitate to mention it, because this seems to be one of the less-founded rumors I've had tossed my way the last several months, but if it'll help you guys get over the idea of Bret Hart's Wrestling Comeback, maybe I should pass this along:  one of the reasons theorized for Bret not yet making an on-screen WWE appearance might be that either Bret or the company isn't comfortable with the idea of putting him on TV unless he can portray the image of a fully able-bodied "Hitman."  That instantly rang false to me on the grounds that Bret doesn't seem insecure about making personal appearances (he's choosy, but he's out there in public) and that the Fed knows dollar signs when they see it (and a non-wrestling Bret Hart wouldn't have to be spry and 240 lbs. to spark fan interest, believe me).  But it's something that at least a few people have talked about as possible motivation...
    So there you have it: as current-as-humanly-possible update on Bret's status.  As of this weekend, fans who saw Bret did NOT see a guy who will be getting into a ring with Kurt Angle any time soon.
  • Both RAW and SD! brand house shows made some headlines over the weekend swing through Texas.
    First, on Friday night, RAW was in Amarillo, TX, and had Terry Funk in as a special guest for the night.  Funk was hyped as a special "enforcer" type guy for the show, and made two appearances.  In his first, he helped Edge get the better of Kane.  In the second, Funk came out after the main event and helped Chris Benoit fend off the entirety of Evolution.  The show closed with an extended Benoit/Funk promo that the hometown crowd was loving.  Like dragging Harley out to RAW last week, this is a cool way to make shows a little more geo-centric, and I hope they do more stuff like this as time goes on...
    And then second, last night in El Paso, TX... it was another hometown crowd, this time for Eddie Guerrero.  And cameras were on hand, so actually, I think we can safely say the rest of this paragraph is a SPOILER.  Avert your eyes and find the next bullet point if you're the sensitive type...  but after Eddie pinned Bradshaw clean in a mid-show match, he called his family up into the ring to celebrate.  Included in the celebration was his mother...  and Bradshaw didn't take too kindly to all this.  He stormed back to the ring, took out Eddie, and then clotheslined Eddie's Mom, who did a stretcher job.  Like I said, all filmed, and paced so that they can completely ignore the part where "Eddie beat Bradshaw" and just focus on a quasi-Mother's Day celebration crashed by Bradshaw.  This will be a major plot development come Thursday night.  Again: another good use of a hometown crowd, and I applaud that.
  • Something I'm not so sure I can applaud: the WWE Experience.  I may have pre-shat-upon the entire concept, but it's still a debuting show, and I'm still a curious son of a bitch, so I made sure DVR was all ready to go on Sunday morning.
    And when I got around to being bored on Sunday night, I made it through the entire show in about 15 minutes.  Which is just about what I expected.  Recap, recap, ostensibly "behind the scenes" piece like Confidential with Trish and Christian except now they stay entirely in character the whole time, recap, recap, PPV hype, decent piece on Chris Benoit's Homecoming, recap, recap, merciful conclusion of the show.  This was precisely the Must Sleep Through TV I assumed it'd be.
    Also: that "Funky Cold Medina"-inspired theme song must go.  Fricking thing was stuck in my head all night last night, and before I could get rid of it, some deep, dark recess of my brain started ejaculating the actual "Funky Cold Medina" lyrics that I'd assumed were long-since forgotten.  EVIL!
    If I had to pick something positive, I guess it'd be that I think I like this Todd Grisham character.  As the new RAW Mic Stand, he's kind of got a gimmick of "I'll actually ask tough questions," and on Experience he got to show vestiges of personality.  Or maybe it's just that, now that I'm years into realizing I'm way too big a pussy to be a wrestler and only really fantasize about getting a sweet WWE announcing gig, it's heartening to see a guy who is essentially stealing my gimmick: smart, bespectacled regular guy who finds Ivory simultaneously obnoxious and bone-able.  It proves I AM marketable!  It wasn't quite Monsoon/Heenan, but their dynamic during the on-the-streets-of-NYC bits was amusing.  I don't know how, but all of 23 minutes into the series, Todd's long-suffering eye-ball-rolling seemed completely reasonable behavior.  And I admit to laughing way harder than I should have when Grisham just muzzled Ivory so he could shoot it to whatever lame-ass video package they had coming up next.
    I didn't bother locking "Experience" in as a weekly-recorded series, but if you're looking for a reason to at least SAMPLE the show, there you go.  And who knows?  Your mileage may vary, and you might actually get a kick out of the recap format...
  • I guess technically, I should have a couple bullet points here about some indie stuff...  but like I said, I'm mostly just looking forward to tonight's RAW.  So sure, Teddy Hart's starting up his own company (jokes about him doing so because nobody else's will hire him any more can be kept to yourself), and it's looking more and more like TNA is gonna get the FoxSportsNet slot concurrent with their second birthday (in June).
    But I don't really feel like talking at length about either.  You have my permission to go read about that stuff on other sites if you really want...  although I might have some more about the TNA deal mid-week, so you could always just wait, too.
    So on that note, I'm done for today.  Enjoy RAW tonight.  Or enjoy the RAW Recap tomorrow.  Or enjoy both.  And at the very least, I'll see you again with news and spoilers and other cool stuff in a fresh OO on Wednesday...


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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