|WWF Byte This! by E.C. Ostermeyer||
This is the WWF Byte This! report for Friday, 30 November 2001, and where has the year gone?
I'm E.C., still in the throes of a monstrous post-Turkey Day binge. We're at the turkey hash stage at this point, having endured the flaming turkey wings and deep-fried gizzards last week. Looks like turkey soup's next, and we can finally put paid to Thanksgiving at ol' E.C.'s house for another year.
Only 25 shopping days 'til Christmas.
Get out and spend.
It's that or face one o' them "Military Commissions" out on Guam, and spend the next twenty years scraping gooney bird poop off a runway in the Marshall Islands.
Speaking of gooney bird poop, today's show gives us a chilling glimpse into Kevin Kelly's home life. Tazz recounts what it's like being the designated jobber in Vince's toy box. Chris Benoit's live and in person on a number of subjects, and Dr. Tom's live and remote from atop Mt. Saint Davis in Louisville, where I understand you have to pay for the view.
Opening credits. Big Country's getting pretty arty these days.
Your hosts are Kevin Kelly and Howard Finkel.
Opening topic is what else, Vince McMahon's Kiss My Ass Club. Kelly wants to know Fink's thoughts in the matter. Fink says he's been around a long time. Mr. McMahon is Mr. McMahon, and he gets his way a LOT! This is his way of making his mark.
(Sort of like my dumb-as-a-rock rottweiler and the rosebushes out front.)
Kelly chimes in to say that, when you get right down to it, they ALL kiss Mr. McMahon's ass.
And on that unnecessarily candid admission, it's time for "Droz's Two Cents," Darren Drozdov's weekly review of all things WWF.
Kelly's still on about the Vince McMahon's Kiss My Ass Club.
Droz opines that the Club's been there all along, hasn't it?
"Now they're just getting out front and naked about it, aren't they?" snickers Droz, "nah, the Club's always been there, just not as public as it is right now."
Kelly, sensing that Droz might be on the verge of being a little TOO honest about being a cast member at McMahon Land, asks Droz about the match for the Undisputed Championship scheduled at the Vengeance PPV.
Droz says that we'll see four WWF Superstars walk into the ring, but only one will walk out as the Undisputed Champ.
"We'd talked about Unification bouts in the past," says Droz, "but never as an Ultimate Showdown bout; it's never been done before. And the fans are really behind this, too. They are looking forward to it."
Speaking of the PPV, Kelly brings up the newly scheduled bout between Matt and Jeff Hardy.
"It was only a matter of time," says Droz, "those two have been needling each other for so long, I'm surprised they haven't killed each other before now. The fans are in for quite a show when these two mix it up. Definitely one for the record books."
"You think the Hardy Boys team is collapsing from within, Droz?" asks Kelly.
"Wouldn't surprise me," says Droz.
"In all the fallout, I hope I get Lita!" says Fink with a laugh.
"Oh yeah, the "Fink-and-Lita-as-an-item" angle is gonna be hot, hot, hot!" sneers Kelly. Droz can be heard snickering on the phone.
A chat roomer wants to know what Droz thinks about his former partner, Albert, teaming up with Scotty Too Hotty?
"It's great to see a smile on that big ol' whale head of his once more," says Droz with a laugh, "somebody actually referred to him as 'HHH.' The 'Hip Hop Hippo! He and Scotty work well together. The size difference works with the style difference quite well."
With that, Droz is done for another week, and we move on to this week's Classic Cuts poll. In honor of Chris Benoit, the poll's choices are:
1) Wrestlemania: Benoit v. Kurt Angle
2) The 5 May '01 RAW: Benoit/Jericho v. Austin/HHH
3) Smackdown!: TLC III
4) Smackdown!: Benoit v. Austin
This week's "Outthink the Fink" deals with a two-year-old promo the WWF did, involving five old school wrestling legends in a darkened wrestling arena. Who were they? The winner gets a copy of the new HHH magazine, and a collectable CD.
Tazz shows up, live on the phone, straight from the Hook. This week's tales from same involves Tazz's match with the Undertaker. Lots of "Dat nassy man hurt me b-a-a-a-d" comments ensue. Nevertheless, Tazz feels honored by the beating ol' 'Taker handed him.
"Easy to work with" and "A true pro" compliments abound.
As Kelly and Fink slip into their hip waders, Tazz moves on to compliment Ric Flair.
"Brock Lesnar and I got to sit down with Ric the other night, after Smackdown" says Tazz, "we ended up talking with him more than an hour, listening to his stories."
Another chat-roomer wants to know how Tazz feels about his former ECW teammates losing their jobs?
"It's a tough business we're in here," says Tazz, " dog eat dog. I'm just trying to stay on TV. Lots of guys are on the sidelines, tremendous talents. I hope they can come back."
"Like Jerry Lawler did?" asks Kelly.
"Yeah, Lawler." Says Tazz. "I've learned a lot from Jerry. I'm a big fan of his. On that Smackdown, when I showed up, I was planning on doing the commentary. I didn't know Jerry was coming back. Then I found out The Big Show and I were going to work that evening, and I couldn't have been happier."
Fink remarks that Tazz will be returning to WWF NY for the WWF Heat taping. Tazz says that he's looking forward to it, and hopes he will get a big pop.
"Hope it's a clear night with NO SNOW, Tazz," says Fink with a smirk.
"Uh, yeah, whatev- oh YEAH, right!" as Tazz finally gets the joke. There follows a series of coarse jokes at Al Snow's expense, and Tazz leaves the show.
We get the "My Sacrifice" video, and then Chris Benoit is live in the studio with Kelly and Fink.
Benoit looks to be in great shape, not surprising since he's been on a ferocious recovery and workout program since his neck surgery. No running yet, but he's planning to be back doing the ring work sometime at the end of December.
"The x-rays look good," says Benoit, "if I continue healing like I've been doing, they'll pull the restrictions, and I'll be good to go."
"Has sitting out been tough on you?" asks Kelly.
"It's been more of a mental battle than a physical one," says Benoit, "but as good as I feel now, I can't believe what I put up with back then. As for the rest, I don't miss the travel, though I do miss the ring time. It's what I like the best about this business, it's my passion."
"When you were in WCW," says Fink, "didn't that passion almost disappear?"
"Yeah, WCW was like a roller coaster that couldn't go up," says Benoit. "When I first signed on, it was 1996. Ric Flair and Arn Anderson recruited me into the Horsemen. It was an honor and a privilege. But it was a constant battle in WCW, and I just got fed up with it. I lost my passion for the business. I wasn't enjoying my work or myself."
Kelly remarks that the next PPV will see an Undisputed World Champion crowned. "When you were the WWF World Champ, you must have had a lot of mixed feelings, a lot of questions about that, didn't you."
"Yes, I did," says Benoit, "but this Undisputed Championship bout coming up will go a long way to answering them. Like the big one. 'Who's better?' It's like choosing between Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair."
"What about the Invasion angle?" asks Kelly, "any thoughts on how it played out?"
"It was tough sitting there and watching what was happening," says Benoit, "I wanted so badly to be there. It was like being outside a glass house, knocking to be let in, but there's no door."
Fink says that he's been amazed at the progress that Chris Jericho has made over the past year. "I even voted him 'WWF Superstar of the Year' on the wwf.com poll. His attitude change is what did it for him. Any thoughts about Jericho's progress, Chris?"
"Chris Jericho was one of the best heels in WCW," says Benoit, "and I'm glad he's taking the opportunity he's been given. He's always been able to capitalize on the opportunities he's gotten. There's been definite improvement in Jericho. Fans don't realize that, in the WWF, to get better, you have to climb into the ring with somebody who's better than you."
Mid-show results on the Classic Clips poll shows the "TLC III" clip blowing out the competition with 54%.
Benoit laughs, and says that was the only time he was in a match like that.
"What was it like, Chris?" asks Kelly.
"Scary," says Benoit, "I'm usually confident when I climb in the ring. Not this time. When you're on top of a ladder, it's wobbling all over the place. If you get kicked off it, you don't know where it's gonna land. Or where you're gonna land. It was a great match."
Fink shifts the topic to Benoit's membership in the Radicalz, and the effect that group had on the WWF.
"But," says Fink, "as time went on, you all seemed to go your own ways. Any thoughts about that?"
"Sometimes," says Benoit, "you've got to go out on your own. Unfortunately for Eddie (Guerrero), he's had some personal problems to deal with. Steve Regal went through the same thing, and look at him now! He's stronger than ever. With some people, like Regal and Eddie, they have to hit rock bottom before they can make the comeback. I know Eddie can fight his way back from this."
"How did you avoid the pitfalls on your way up?" asks Kelly.
"Everybody's different," says Benoit, "we all make different decisions based on our beliefs. That's what separates us all, doesn't it?"
"What was it like in Edmonton last May," asks Kelly, "when all your hometown fans were behind you?"
"It was the most exhilarating moment of my career," says Benoit, " but I would have never had that kind of opportunity until I joined the WWF."
Fink wants to know if Benoit's been in contact with the wrestlers who are on the injured list?
"There's stages you go through when you get injured," says Benoit. "HHH told me what to expect, and I passed the same information on to Rhyno."
Our first Caller wants to know what Benoit's favorite story line is right now?
"I like all of what they are doing now," says Benoit, "with Ric Flair in the mix, the possibilities are endless. Flair brings a lot of insight and vision to the WWF."
"What about the 'Kiss My Ass Club' business," asks Kelly, "some people are saying that they think it's funny, while others think Vince is going too far. Are the segments too much? Where do you draw the line, Chris?"
"That segment they did with Regal was outstanding," says Benoit, "it gave Regal's career a BIG boost. Though I think they should have ended it there. You can't duplicate a moment like that, and they shouldn't keep trying to."
The next Caller wants to know why it took so long for Benoit's style of wrestling to catch on in the United States?
"Wrestling is a constantly evolving business," says Benoit, "it's evolving in Japan and in the U.S."
"What about Kurt Angle stealing your German Suplex move?" asks the Caller.
"It's not MY German Suplex," says Benoit, "I don't have a patent on it. It's just a wrestling move. Anyone can use it. Who am I to tell Kurt Angle he can't use a belly-to- back suplex on anyone?"
Kelly wants to know how Benoit would set up the Vengeance match between Matt and Jeff Hardy?
"I'm a big fan of the Hardys," says Benoit, "you gotta love those moves they do. They need to tell a story when they go out there, and I know both of them can do just that. Add in all that high-flying stuff they do, and it should be one helluva match!"
Caller Three wants to know if Benoit needs anything settled when he gets back in the ring?
"I've got a lot to prove to myself," says Benoit, "the surgery's made me want to prove that I can come back. So far, I haven't missed a step."
Kelly wants to know Benoit's thoughts on what's been going on in the Hart family.
"From day one," says Benoit, "Helen Hart made me feel welcome in her home, part of her family, as if I'd known her my whole life. The whole family's been good to me. I'd rather stay away from anything involving Diana at this point. The turmoil, the trouble, it's heartbreaking to watch, especially if you know all the people involved."
Kelly switches gears, and asks Benoit about the pressure in being a top performer.
"Kane was on the show two weeks ago, and talked about getting butterflies. Do you get butterflies, Chris?"
"I get 'em ALL the time," laughs Benoit, "I used to not get them, back in WCW, but now that I'm in the WWF, I get 'em constantly. Towards the end in WCW, I was as calm as if I was sitting on my couch at home. It began to concern me a lot."
"What about when you found out you were booked into a WWF match in Madison Square Garden?" asks Kelly.
"When I first saw Jimmy Snuka dive off the top of the cage at the Garden," says Benoit, "I knew that's what I wanted to do, and where I wanted to do it. Once you've wrestled in the Garden, it's quite an accolade."
"What about today's wrestlers, Chris?" asks Kelly, "in the old days, you wrestled in Japan and in Mexico to "pay your dues. Nowadays, the rookies all wrestle in the developmental territories to get into the business."
"I know, and that's a real shame," says Benoit. "I got to tour the world, and that's something the new guys will never get the opportunity to do. They'll miss out on seeing all the different styles of wrestling. It's a shame they can't do that anymore."
"Test has the look of the new generation of WWF wrestlers that's coming along," says Kelly, "What experiences didn't he get, and does that lack hinder him in any way?"
"No, I don't think so," says Benoit, "this business is evolving in so many ways, you can't say which way is the RIGHT way anymore. Ten, fifteen years from now, Test will say how he avoided the obstacles he encountered coming in."
"What do you think of backyard wrestling," asks Kelly.
"Take it from somebody who was a participant," says Benoit, " but we were doing hammerlocks and arm bars, not smashing each other through tables. We did the technical stuff. Nowadays, the kids don't know what kind of training and preparation we have to go through in order to do the moves we do. I spent six months with Stu Hart, then I went to Japan. I learned how to land, and how to take a bump. We make it look easy because we are that...damn...good."
"Which wrestling legend would you like to have gone one on one with?" asks Fink.
Benoit doesn't bat an eye. "The Dynamite Kid. He was the reason I wanted to get into wrestling in the first place. I saw him wrestle at the old Pavilion in Edmonton in front of about 1000 people. I wanted to be just like him, so I modeled my career on his."
"Speaking of which," says Kelly, "what's your take on the current WWF champs and Bret Hart's place among them?"
"Bret's right up there with the legends," says Benoit.
"The way he left the WWF, will that taint the history?" asks Kelly.
"No. Bret and Vince did great business together, and Bret was without a doubt a great champion. No matter which way he left, he will always be a great champion."
Caller Four's question involves the Dynamite Kid's career-ending injury, and what Benoit is doing to avoid such an occurrence?
"Things are different now than they were twenty years ago," says Benoit, "surgery's much more advanced. The surgical techniques used on me were almost ten years old. X-Pac was the first one that I know of that had the same surgery. If the Dynamite Kid was wrestling now, maybe they'd have been able to save his career."
Kelly asks Benoit's opinion of the WWF "Tough Enough" show.
"They did a great job," says Benoit, "It's hard enough to put on one of those reality shows, and that was as close to the reality I know as you are going to get. It's a great way for those kids to start out, although it's very different from the way I started. It's a great reality-based show."
Caller Five wants to know how Benoit's planning to get back into the ring?
"I don't know yet," says Benoit, "I guess I won't know until I start wrestling again. My concern is whether I will be satisfied with the work I do, once I return to the ring. Wrestling is a passion of mine, and I get intense about what I do. Half-stepping won't do. I guess I will have to re-evaluate if I have to. I'll cross that bridge when I come to it."
"You think you'll be ready to go by Wrestlemania, Chris?"
"I hope so," says Benoit, with some intensity, "the end of December, I start light impact training, so I'll know for sure after that. January's my target."
Kelly and Fink thank Chris Benoit for joining them, and he leaves the show. After a short break, Dr. Tom Prichard joins the show for his report on the doings in the developmental territories.
"What's all this about kissing Vince's ass?" asks a sniggering Dr. Tom.
"Yeah, when I have Vince up to my house," replies Kelly with a laugh, "I kiss his ass in front of my wife and kids!"
(Jeez, Kevin, is THAT something you'd admit to? And in public?)
"How's Benoit look, Kev?" asks Dr. Tom.
"Great," says Kelly, "he's ready to go. Where are you, Tom?"
"Mt. Saint David," says Dr. Tom.
"I should be seeing you this weekend," says Kelly. "How goes it this week, Doc?"
"The TV was great this past week," says Dr. Tom, "the future of the WWF is in Louisville, and Cincinnati."
"I understand that Leviathan achieved a milestone in his career his week?" says Kelly.
"He got all the fans behind him," says Dr. Tom, "they knew something was going to happen, but they didn't know how. It was a great match. But all the guys down here are working hard and training hard. Take Prototype, for instance. He's not slacking off at all. Everybody's trying to stay in there."
Fink speaks of Ric Flair joining the WWF.
"How's Ric's son, David, doing these days?" asks Fink.
"David is one of those guys that you have to fire up," says Dr. Tom, "you have to light a fire under him every time he goes out to the ring, or does a promo. He still needs to be confident with himself. Once he gets that confidence, there will be no stopping him. But he's a bit shy about what he does. He needs to build that confidence of his and get ready."
"I've noticed that some of the OVW and HWA guys have been wrestling dark matches and house shows lately," says Fink, "How's being on the road with the WWF affected them?"
"A lot of the guys," says Dr. Tom, are finding out that being on the road's not that easy. You're backstage sometimes as much as six hours before a show. It's a learning experience."
"Who should we be watching for?" asks Kelly.
"Rico, Waterman, and Lesnar are all positive," says Dr. Tom, "Orton hurt his shoulder, but should be okay. The big thing is that they are getting the chance to wrestle in front of different crowds. They are all potential superstars."
"What do you hear about Mark Henry's progress, Tom?" asks Fink.
"Henry has never looked better," says Dr. Tom, "in fact, he's training for that 'World's Strongest Man' competition. His promo work is improving right along with his physical shape. I think moving Mark to OVW was a good idea. It motivated him to lose the weight he needed to, and also helped get him a little more polished. When he's ready, Mark will be back, and believe me, people are gonna notice him!"
"You ever get vibes from guys getting frustrated?" asks Fink, "Or is it determination?"
"Mostly, it's determination," says Dr. Tom, "when they get frustrated is when they feel they can't advance any farther. They can't look outside the box. They sit there and say they've been at it for so long. They should realize that timing is everything, seizing the moment is what counts."
"It's great you give everybody a taste of what it's like, Doc," says Kelly, and Dr. Tom's segment winds up.
We've got a winner in the "Outthink the Fink" contest. Fink himself says it didn't take long at all.
"Who were the five wrestling legends in the promo?" Pat Patterson, Killer Kowalski, Gorilla Monsoon, Earnie Ladd, and Freddie Blassie.
The Classic Cuts winner is, not surprisingly, "Tables, Ladders and Chairs III" from Smackdown.
Kelly introduces us to an announcer-in-training, >Mr. Seth Mates.
Mr. Mates makes the momentous announcement that next week, 'r-r-r-ight here on our shew,' (Sorry, I was channeling Ed Sullivan there for a moment) the Byte This! guest will be the Nature Boy himself, Ric Flair!
"Big Country arranged the whole thing!" gushes Mates.
"Whoooo!" says Kelly.
"Whoooo!" says Fink.
"Whoooo!" says Mates.
"That sucked, Seth," says Kelly.
"Looks like we won't be having a Legends segment next week," says Fink.
"Noooo!" says Kelly, "Not that! We GOTTA have a Legends segment. How about getting the Berzerker?"
"Damien Demento!" suggests Fink.
As we go to today's winning Classic Clip, Kelly and Fink can still be heard bouncing wrestling legends off each other.
Ric Flair's scheduled for next week.
See you then.
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