|WWF Byte This! by E.C. Ostermeyer||
This is the WWF Byte This! report for Friday, 20 July 2001, and I'm still me.
You're still you, too.
On today's show, Kevin Kelly get gets nervous, Droz gets garrulous, Tazz gets intense, and Vincent Kennedy McMahon gets remarkably candid. He also gets a couple of prank phone calls from the Billionaire Kids.
Opening cred...er, no, we've got a photomontage of Mr. McMahon on the screen, with his "No Chance In Hell" entrance theme playing in the background.
NOW, we get the Byte This! Opening Credits, followed by a shot of three chairs on the Byte This! set, all of which are filled with WWF- affiliated butt.
Vince McMahon occupies the center chair, nattily attired in a matching shirt and slacks ensemble of champagne hue. Your somewhat nervous hosts, Kevin Kelly and Howard Finkel, on the other hand, are still clad in what they wore to last week's show. Fink looks like he slept in his.
And there's still no sign of Dr. Tom Prichard.
Kelly introduces today's guest, Vince McMahon, and says that the "Invasion" PPV is only two days away, a somewhat obvious statement since this "Gang of Three" has a huge "Invasion" PPV graphic hanging behind them.
Kelly says that "Invasion" is shaping up to be the biggest event in WWF history, dwarfing even the hugely successful "Wrestlemania X-7" from earlier this year.
"With Shane and Stephanie going right after you, Mr. McMahon," says Kelly, " it must be a real exciting time for you, too, but your nerves have to be on end by now."
Vince gives Kelly a look, and says that he's never backed down from a challenge, "personally or professionally."
"It's perhaps the most unique challenge I've ever had, " he continues, "and though this may hurt from a personal standpoint, it's not business, and I plan to keep it on business. If you put a rat in a corner, he's going to fight because he's cornered."
"Do you feel cornered, sir?" asks Kelly.
Vince gives Kelly another look.
"No, I don't feel cornered," says Vince, " but something like this puts a lot of pressure on me, and I'm gonna fight. Something like this brings out the best and the worst in a human being."
Time for this week's edition of "Droz's Two Cents," where Darren Drozdov recaps the past week's happenings in the WWF. But the connection is broken almost immediately.
While Byte This! Producer "Big Country" is trying to re-establish communications, we are treated to Vince giving him a look of disdain.
Vince then says that he makes some extraordinary sacrifices for his business, what with the guitar shot he took from Stone Cold Steve Austin on Smackdown and all.
Kelly, obviously in "Mr. Tact" mode, asks Vince if, ten years ago, he'd ever imagined making out with a hot model like Torrie Wilson, and then have wife Linda walk in and catch him at it?
Vince gives Kelly another look, then asks Fink what HE thinks about the whole Torrie business?
Fink sort of blanches, and says that Vince really put him on the spot.
"I DO look good with my pants down, though," says Vince with a smirk.
"Without a doubt," says Fink; "Sometimes a man has to do what he has to do. And if he gets caught, he deals with it, and moves on."
Kelly asks Vince if he knew that Howard Finkel was the first employee of the WWF?
Vince gives him another look, and says he had that figured out a while ago.
Fink asks if Vince had any idea that the "Invasion" angle was going to come along as soon as it had?
Vince replies that you've got to be ready for challenges when they come along, not just when you're ready to handle them.
"You try to prepare for it," says Vince, "but there really is no good time or bad time for "Invasion. You're either ready or you're not. Well, the WWF is ready for this, and will be the superior force."
Fink begins to asks Vince the "what if" question, at which point Vince says he doesn't think like that, so don't bother going there.
Droz finally shows up, and Vince asks how "bitchcakes" is doing. Droz laughs, and says that he's doing okay, just like Billy, and also that he was "very entertained" by Vince doing thew "Penguin Walk" with his pants around his ankles during the Torrie Wilson incident.
"Bet you've had that experience yourself, huh Droz?" asks Vince pointedly.
Kelly asks Droz what his thoughts are about the upcoming "Invasion" PPV.
Droz sees it as the culmination of a debate that has raged ever since the start of the Monday Night Wars between Raw and WCW Nitro. "It's going to come down to "who is the superior company?" says Droz, "and that, at the end of the show, it will be obvious to the fans that the WWF is just that."
Kelly speaks on the "Inaugural Brawl," and says that the WWF couldn't have picked a better five-man team than Steve Austin, Kurt Angle, Y2J, Kane and the Undertaker.
Droz says that he's surprised that these five wrestlers, who you would never have thought would work together, are now allied in the pursuit of a common goal, and that they've put aside personal differences to do just that.
"It was also good to see the "old" Stone Cold Steve Austin back," says Droz, "although I was appalled that he clobbered you with a guitar, Vince."
Kelly switches to discussing Kurt Angle. Vince says that Kurt has something to prove, that he can be a spokesman, and a leader, and that the latter was proven convincingly on Smackdown.
Kelly asks Droz to gauge Austin's feelings when DDP shoved Austin's wife Debra into the trunk of the car on Smackdown.
"You'd think DDP would know better," says Droz, "after messing with the Undertaker's wife. All DDP is doing is lining up a person who is, if anything, even more unpredictable than the Undertaker. Courtesy of DDP, we are going to see a side of Steve Austin that we've never seen before."
Kelly speaks of the ECW/WCW five man team facing Austin et al, and asks if Vince expected Rhyno and the Dudley Boyz to join with Booker T and DDP?
"You can't predict anything in this business," says Vince, "There's going to be quite a bit of teamwork between Rhyno and the Dudleys, given their past history in ECW, and ditto the relationship between Booker T and DDP. My only concern is, will Team WWF be able to get along?"
Droz says that he thinks so, because they all have a common cause, a common goal to shoot for.
Kelly says that the common cause may have been given voice by Freddie Blassie on last Monday's Raw, to which Vince says that he had invited Blassie to appear, but had no idea that he would give such a stirring and emotional speech.
Kelly mentions that Vince had tears in his eyes two weeks ago in Madison Square Garden during the tribute to Vince's father.
Vince smiles sheepishly, and says that, despite what people think, there is a human side to Vince McMahon.
Kelly segues to the WWF Hardcore Title match between Jeff Hardy and Rob Van Dam, to which Droz rejoins that it'll be one for the books, and just blow the roof off the Gund Arena in Cleveland.
As for the first-ever "Bra and Panties" tag match between WWF's Lita/Trish Stratus and WCW' Torrie Wilson/Stacy Keibler, Droz says that NOBODY loses that kind of match.
Kelly thinks the WCW girls might not be up to the challenge. Droz says don't be surprised if you're wrong.
Topic shifts to the match between WWF referee Earl Hebner, and WCW "Dark Side" referee Nick Patrick.
"I like Earl Hebner here," says Droz, "he 's been just killing Patrick of late. Make no mistake, this is NOT gonna be a wrestling match; it's gonna be a slobberknocker fight, pure and simple."
Vince says that, even though he hasn't seen eye to eye with Earl Hebner on a lot of occasions, he respects the guy.
Kelly plugs the WWFWCWInvasion.com site for all the updates you'd ever want about Sunday's PPV.
Droz gets in a final plug for this week's "Two Cents" column, and leaves with everybody's thanks.
"Outthink the Fink" this week is in honor of Vince McMahon, and Fink comes up with a doozy, all right. He wants to know who was Vince McMahon's commentator partner on the 1970's era show, Championship Wrestling, and the nickname he gave to Vince.
This one appears to stump even Vince, who looks downright confused and bewildered.
As the show sets up for Tazz's "Tales from the Hook," Kelly asks Vince what's at stake in the "Invasion" PPV?
Vince says that his kids, Shane and Stephanie, have laid it all on the line. "It's not some foolhardy gesture," says Vince, "they really know what they are risking here, and that there is no turning back. I'm not saying that they would never be allowed back into the WWF, but if they wanted that, they'd have to earn their stripes just like everybody else. This is a challenge that the WWF has never before faced, and we are ready for it. I'm almost 56 years old, and I've still got something left to give to this business. I work hard, think young, and I train hard. I am focused on the future, and what the McMahon regime can still bring to the WWF."
At this point Tazz shows up with this week's edition of "Tales from the Hook."
Topic Number One is Darryl's being the first contestant to get actually cut on the "Tough Enough" show.
Tazz says that Darryl was the only one shocked at his getting cut.
"He was filled with his own ego," says Tazz
"And you are not, I suppose," interjects Vince.
"Hey, is that my old boss?" says Tazz with a derisive smirk; "at least I EARNED every bit of my ego..."
"That you have, that you have," says Vince.
"...You don't need to be six seven to be Tough Enough," says Tazz, "even you know that, Vince."
Vince says would agree with Tazz.
Vince says that Darryl got picked on by Tazz (snort from Tazz on the phone) and he was glad when Darryl got cut, but afterwards, when Darryl was reflecting on what the contest had meant to him, Vince was worried that maybe they'd cut the wrong man.
Tazz says that Darryl wanted to be kicked off the show, what with being a jackass in front of the camera all the time. Kelly thinks that Darryl would have been cut sooner or later, since things are bound to get tougher and tougher as the show progresses.
"Let's talk about Paulina," says Kelly, " I have the feeling that she's getting into a danger zone, questioning herself all the time. That kind of self-doubt could be dangerous."
Tazz agrees, and says that we will see that real soon.
"Yes, it's sports entertainment," says Tazz, " but that doesn't mean that it's like the ballet. Just because some girl is six three doesn't mean she's tough. She gets a few serious injuries, and well, I don't want to spoil the show, but if you can't hang, then split!"
We get about two minutes of Vince and Tazz discussing how a wrestler's physical size is a factor?
The subject of Tazz's match with Yoshihiro Tajiri this Sunday comes up, and Vince remarks that Tajiri is considerably smaller that Tazz is.
"Yeah," says Tazz, "Tajiri and I had some phenomenal matches back in ECW, but that was then. Tajiri doesn't have the intensity to beat me, so we'll see just how much he does have at "Invasion."
Tazz was on top of the world as the ECW Champ when he faced Tajiri back then. Now, he's starting over, and needs this victory to continue establishing himself.
Kelly says that Tazz was a part of Smackdown, and threw it all away to go back to work for Paul E...
"I'm working for Stephanie," growls Tazz.
"Whaddaya think of Jim Ross calling Heyman a Kool-Aid salesman?" asks Vince.
"As long as it's orange," says Tazz, "I'm enjoying it!"
Back to discussing his match with Tajiri, Tazz says he expects it to be a kickass bout.
"I won't make a prediction as to who will win, and frankly, I don't care," says Tazz, and he leaves the show.
Kelly asks Vince if there's anyone on the WCW roster he wishes he had?
Vince says they are all fine performers, and who knows, after "Invasion" he just might have all of them.
Caller Matt on Line 1 wants to know when the Rock is due back?
Vince says that he may have to re-think his suspension of the Rock in the light of the current situation the WWF is facing.
A dive into the Email Bag comes up with a question as to the trustworthiness of Steve Austin, now that he's back to being the old Stone Cold?
Vince says that he did not enjoy getting walloped by the guitar shot that Austin gave him, but that, in retrospect, he feels okay about it. He admires that old "Stone Cold" spirit, and says the WWF needs that more than he needs an un-walloped head.
Another email wants to know what Vince plans to do when he retires?
Vince gets a bit testy, and says he doesn't plan to EVER retire. "That's for those who have nothing else to give, " he says, "retirement isn't in my future. Death is, but not retirement."
Back to the phones, where Line One congratulates Vince on how he put the WWF/WCW/ECW story line together. "Just brilliant!" gushes the caller, "but, after the "Invasion" PPV, how will that piece fit into the overall WWF story line?"
Vince says he doesn't know now, but will have a good idea based on the fans'' reaction to the "Invasion" PPV. We will just have to wait and see."
Kelly wants to know how Vince handled the aftermath of Shane's "Street Fight" match with Kurt Angle at the "King of the Ring" PPV?
Vince says his heart was in his throat for both his son and his friend, Kurt Angle. "When you see two people you love and respect putting themselves in that kind of peril," says Vince, "you are happy when it's over, and happy that nobody got injured. It's not that you stop caring, because, as a parent, you never stop caring. Yes, I was concerned for Kurt's well-being, but even more so, my son Shane's."
The next caller wants to know what chance the WWF has against WCW/ECW without proven superstars like Rikishi, HHH, and Chris Benoit?
Vince says "I'd be a whole lot more confident in our chances if they were off the injured list, especially Chris Benoit, who is a big loss to the WWF. With Benoit and HHH in the lineup, the leadership problems would all be ironed out, and you wouldn't have to deal with five guys who either don't or won't get along, disagreeing even to the point of having trouble ordering the same food together."
Fink picks up on the theme of leadership, and says that it looks like Vince is emphasizing leadership the closer we get to "Invasion."
Vince agrees, citing the leadership abilities of APA in rounding up the troops, and instilling them with the same fervor they have for the WWF. "Everybody's glad to have the APA on their side," says Vince.
Kelly says it will be quite a match when the WWF Tag Champs meet the WCW Tag Champs at "Invasion," and also when the WWF Light Heavyweight Champ, X-Pac, meets the WCW Cruiserweight Champ Billy Kidman.
Kelly then expands on the last statement and asks Vince his thoughts on the future of the WCW Cruiserweight Division.
Vince sees the Division's future as a question of talent, not a question of weight. "Talent will always rise," says Vince, "regardless of the weight."
Kelly changes gears, and asks Vince about the influence HHH has been having behind the scenes at the WWF?
Vince says that HHH is the kind of person who cannot just sit back and do nothing; he has to be working and doing all the time. "HHH has been an influence, and will continue to be an influence in what goes on both in the ring and out of it," says Vince. "Right now, he's going through rehab. That is his sole task."
Kelly agrees, and says that, when HHH was on Byte This! last week, he was asked if he was going to take a day off from rehabbing, and he said "no!"
The next caller asks if Vince has a book in the works, since the Rock and Mick Foley are both established authors? Oh, and could Vince let out a huge "SCREW YOU! YOU'RE FIRED!" for old times' sake?
Vince, laughing, says that it's not so old times; he recalls saying just those exact words only today! As for the books, he'd love to sit down and write a series (!) of them, although he doesn't consider himself much of a writer.
"All told," says Vince, "I've written my wife a total of FIVE letters. To me, writing is so much different than talking. Written words live forever, and that concerns me greatly. I'd be a basket case if I were to write a book."
Kelly remarks that this could be due to Vince's "hands-on" approach to everything he does. Vince agrees, saying that he's a good storyteller.
"Editing also interests me," says Vince, "because you get to talk with everyone, and engage them in the input process. This is so much better than having just one man running the show. If that happens, you only have one viewpoint, one vision: his. And soon, everything is going to get stale. You have to listen to the public. The wrestling business has perfected the art of listening to its fans better than any other sport or form of entertainment. When you work for the WWF, it's part of your job to speak up and contribute. If you just sit back and keep your mouth shut and don't contribute, we don't want you. You know what my job is? I listen. That's my job. I'm a pretty good listener."
The next caller, Joe, wants to know where Vince sees sports entertainment in the next decade? Vince thinks for a moment, and then says it'll be on the top of the entertainment world. "People aren't going to get tired of sports entertainment," says Vince. "our business follows the fans, not the other way around."
The next caller is...Shane McMahon!
"Surprise, surprise, Vince," sneers Shane in full-bore kayfabe mode, "Enjoy your last few days of power, because you're going DOWN this Sunday!"
"How's you shoulder, son?" purrs Vince, in a WAY too-friendly voice.
"It's a bit better, thanks. "
"Are you going to be at ringside at 'Invasion'?"
"Depends. Are YOU gonna be there?"
"I might be. I just might be."
"Then I'll see you out there. Although I wouldn't recommend your showing up if I'm at ringside. Remember Wrestlemania? Well, it could be six versus six at 'Invasion.' I can't compete with your money, but I sure can compete in the brains category! I am gonna shock the world!"
"Well," says Vince, "you better come prepared, because you may be in for a learning experience. You ever heard the expression, 'He taught me all I know?' Well, though you learned everything you did from me, don't think I taught you everything I know!"
"See ya Sunday...DAD!" sneers Shane-O-Mac, and he hangs up.
Kelly and Fink take another opportunity to shill for the "Invasion" PPV, emphasizing its importance to pro-wrestling. Fink says that the debate has been building for decades about which promotion had the best wrestlers.
"It is fitting that the showdown takes place in Cleveland, at the Gund Arena," says Fink, "because this is where it all began (last March 26th.) This is a dream come true for me and every other wrestling fan... did I mention that I'm a wrestling fan?"
Vince gives Fink a look. "Are you a wrestling fan, or a WWF fan?" he rumbles.
Fink, seeing the pit yawning before him, scrabbles back from the brink by hastily saying that of course, his loyalties lie with the WWF, but he's still a wrestling fan in general. "And as a wrestling fan," Fink gushes, "I'd be foolish not to be watching this event this Sunday
Vince eyes Fink for a little longer, then turns to Kelly, who's visibly shrinking under his gaze.
"He's just begging me to fire him, isn't he?"
Both he and Kelly laugh, Kelly's laugh sounding like a weird mixture of forced relief mixed with terror.
Fink looks decidedly unhappy at this turn of events, but ha-ha, goes along with the gag.
Back to the phones, and our next caller is an eleven year-old female who tells Vince that when she grows up, she wants to be a wrestler.
Vince recommends that she watch "Tough Enough," and the youngster says that she's taping it.
"Well, then," says Vince, warmly for a change, "when you're ready, the opportunity will be there for you."
Kelly takes this opportunity to ask Vince about the message that the "Tough Enough" show is sending to everybody who watches it.
Vince says that he hopes it's more insightful that anything else, and will show the sacrifices the WWF superstars have to go through. "Unfortunately," says Vince, "because of time constraints, we have to heavily edit the show, which means a lot of good stuff doesn't get shown each week. Take the story Kurt Angle told about how he won the Olympic gold medal, and kind of laughed them off when the WWF approached him after Atlanta in 1996. And how, two years later, he was back, knocking on THEIR door this time, with no guarantee that they'd even take him.
Well, there's going to be a video made of the show which will include a lot of what didn't get shown on TV. Maybe the show should have been an hour long instead of half an hour."
Kelly wants HHH's "Reality Check" speech to be required viewing for anyone who wants to become a professional wrestler.
Vince agrees, and says that the show's focus on the actual training, and how it jars every bone in your body.
"Then too," he continues, "there's what goes on outside of the ring. As a wrestler, you need your in-ring character for the fans. It's what you develop over time, and the fans are not going to accept who you are in real life; they want to see you in your TV character all the time. That's what we are trying to get across, that there is so much to being a WWF superstar that no one really understands it all."
Back to the phones, and here's Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley!
"Daddy, you may know how it is to be a WWF superstar," she purrs, "but you have no idea what it means to be a WCW/ECW superstar!"
Vince, far from being upset, is actually amused by this tirade.
"This is the first time you and your brother have put it all on the line," he says, " how do you like the pressure?"
"I always work better under pressure, Daddy," says Stephanie.
"Believe me, Stephanie," says Vince," you've never had pressure like this before."
"The more pressure," ripostes Stephanie, "the better I like it!"
Vince decides to change tactics.
"Can't you get Paul Heyman cleaned up?" he asks. "I mean, his complexion is sallow, and he needs a haircut, and a weight loss program..."
"This is not about 'corporate image,' Daddy..." begins Stephanie.
"No, it's about being a good human being!" says Vince.
"So Jeff Hardy's colored hair means he's not a good person?" asks Stephanie, with just a touch of venom leaking through.
"Colored hair is good for Jeff Hardy," says Vince, slamming that door shut.
After a series of rather tasteless jokes at the expense of Paul Heyman's sartorial splendor, or lack thereof, Stephanie wheels out the big guns, and loads up a salvo.
"It's you who are feeling the pressure, Daddy," she purrs, "because you know from what your eyes have seen, that the WCW and ECW can kick the WWF's ass!"
"You know," says Vince, asserting parental dominance, "I think you need to have your mouth washed out with soap!"
"Bye, Daddy," says Stephanie, with a bit more malice than normal, "see you Sunday!" and hangs up.
Kelly breaks the awkward silence by telling Vince that raising kids isn't easy, is it? "I've got a five-year-old, and let me tell you...!"
Vince gives him another one of those looks, then remarks that Kelly should wait until they turn against you; it's just wonderful!
No winner this week in the "Outthink the Fink" contest, ("Your audience probably weren't even BORN, then," says Vince,) so Fink's gotta come up with the answer himself, which is:
"Antonina Rocca was Vince's broadcast colleague on the '70's era "Championship Wrestling" show, and "General" was the nickname he gave Vince.
Vince laughs, and says that Rocca gave that nickname to everybody he met!
Vince asks what happens since they don't have a winner?
Fink says that they choose somebody randomly, and award the "Invasion" T-shirt to them.
Vince says why not give 'em two T-shirts, to which Kelly replies that, well, they are both Mediums, anyway.
Vince gives Kelly another one of his looks.
One last plug for the "Invasion" PPV has Vince declaring in true kayfabe style that WCW and ECW are going to be annihilated.
Kelly says that Vince's employees are counting on just that. Vince turns it around, and says that he's counting on Kelly!
Kelly thanks Vince for coming on the show, and plugs the WWFWCWInvasion.com site one more time for the latest information on the "Invasion" PPV, this Sunday.
See you next week.
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