|WWF Byte This! by E.C. Ostermeyer||
This is the WWF Byte This! report for Friday, 14 December 2001, and I'm in a fraz over this durn Christmas shopping nonsense.
On today's show, Byte This! producer Big Country's mom gets hit on more than a nail at Bob Vila's place,
Opening credits get run off real quick as we welcome back Howard Finkel to the comparative peace of Stamford, CT.
Kevin Kelly does a quick weather bulletin to the effect that it's still raining in Stamford.
Vince is busy right now.
He's out in front of Titan Towers, getting goats aboard the Ark.
Kelly and Fink close the book on WWF's Vengeance PPV, and Chris Jericho becoming the Undisputed Champion. Fink says that he predicted Jericho would be the Champ over at wwfdotcom way back last week, when the site was polling folks about who'd be Superstar of the Year for 2001.
"He's the right choice for where the company needs to go," says Fink, "being Unified Champ will boost his career like crazy. It'll boost the company, too."
Kelly wants to know what effect Rob Van Dam squaring off against the Undertaker will have on the future of the WWF.
Fink gets in a dig on the Internet smarts. "Just when you think the big guy's dead and gone, the Undertaker comes right back. His match with RVD was tremendous.
"He's continuously evolving his character," says Kelly, "it's what'll take him into a new decade."
"Keeping it fresh, huh?" says Fink.
Looks like the WWF Chat Room's unoccupied at the moment. Kelly's getting nervous.
Fink's grumbling that his monitor's blank too, as Big Country's feverishly trying to get communications restored.
This week's Classic Clips selection is from past WWF Royal rumble Championship matches:
1991: Sgt. Slaughter v. Ultimate Warrior
1998: Undertaker v. Shawn Michaels (my pick)
1999: The Rock v. Mankind
2000: HHH v. Cactus Jack
Next up is Droz's Two Cents, Darren Drozdov's weekly review of all things WWF.
Tazz gets first honors due to his win on Smackdown, and then the topic shifts to Chris Jericho becoming the Unified Champ. Droz was as surprised as everybody else at the outcome of that match.
"I didn't think he'd make it past The Rock," says Droz.
Kelly says that Jericho had some help beating Steve Austin.
"Yeah," says Droz, "just like a heel, getting help to win the Title belt."
Fink remarked that Jericho had been a long time on the merry-go-round, but he finally got the brass ring last Sunday, and what a boost to his career it would be.
"I know I'm not alone in thinking that I was expecting the final matchup to be Rock vs. Stone Cold," says Droz, "I can only guess how much this is gonna help Jericho's career."
Kelly asked Droz's opinion on the collapse of the Hardy Boys team.
"They are still brothers," says Droz, "and have worked well as a team in the past. Maybe their match at Vengeance proved that, if you're facing your brother, you don't work the match as hard."
At this point, Kelly checks the chat room.
Seems the big topic is whether Big Country's mom would whup up on the Sandman in a Hardcore match?
Droz, laughing, says it would depend on how sober the Sandman is.
There follows several coarse references to Big Country's mom.
"She's in that hot late forties age right now..." says Kelly.
"HEY!" bellows an outraged Big Country from off-stage.
Kelly, attempting to change the subject, asks if Droz's wife Julie likes to shop at the supermarket?
"Yeah," says Droz, "especially if Booker T comes rolling by stuffed into a shopping cart. I wouldn't mind going there myself."
The chat room is still going on about Big Country's mom. Big Country's getting p-o'ed by the minute, which Kelly doesn't help by sassing him back. Fink adds gasoline to the fire by announcing that all fans that want Big Country's mom on Byte This! to email the show at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Big Country's really mad now, saying that the jokes about his mom are getting old.
"What's the matter with you? Don't you like the WWF fans?" sneers Kelly.
Fink and Droz, meanwhile, are holding a sort of intelligent conversation on the relative merits of one Lance Storm.
"He's zero for two," says Fink, "you think good things come in threes for this guy?"
"Being manhandled by the likes of The Big Show and Kane can't be good for Lance," says Droz. "Maybe he'll get another chance."
Kelly says that they are missing the boat by not teaming up Lance with Justin Credible and getting the Impact Players back together.
(Sheesh, this is only something that the 'Net has been hollering about for the past year.)
Kelly, sensing that the conversation is beginning to lag, asks Droz if he's got anything special planned for their special holiday "best of" Byte This show.
"You got anything planned for the holidays, Droz?"
"Uh, my wife's sitting right here," says Droz, "so I can't talk about it just now."
"Got the tree up yet?"
Droz says no, their cats go crazy when the tree goes up. Just trash the place.
Talk shifts to Droz's Two Cents column over at wwfdotcom, where Droz highlights the return of Hurricane Helms, and how great the match between Crash Holly and Tajiri was.
"Yeah, the WWF definitely needs more superheroes," laughs Kelly.
Fink asks about the upcoming three-hour New Year's Eve show, and whether Droz has any picks on the best match of 2001?
"Maybe we'll get you a list from the website so's you can pick one out," offers Kelly.
As Droz leaves the show, Kelly fields a call. Caller One wants to see Shawn Michaels back in the ring. Kelly says that ol' HBK will be guest-hosting WWF Excess tomorrow night from WWF New York, and would that do for now?
Time for Outthink the Fink. In honor of this week's special guest on Byte This! Fink wants to know what college Jerry Lawler attended? The winner gets a "Just Bring It!" T-shirt (the one with the big American flag on it.) Email answers to email@example.com, and please include your shirt size, because Biggie, the ShopZone mail order troll isn't too good at guessing shirt sizes.
Time for "Tales from the Hook," and Tazz, who apparently was put on hold by Big Country some fifteen minutes ago, and forced to listen to all the foolishness earlier in the show.
Needless to say, Tazz is NOT in a good mood.
Kelly tries to smooth things over by congratulating Tazz on his win on Smackdown, then goes on to the Holiday get-together with the WWFE employees that Tazz attended. Tazz saw the opportunity to schmooze with the employees, and spent the entire party pressing the flesh, working the room, just getting himself over.
Also in attendance were Kelly, Tommy Dreamer, HHH and Spike Dudley, and they were all amazed at how hard Tazz was working the room.
"I needed something from everybody there, says Tazz.
"What do you think you accomplished?" asks Fink.
"I dunno," says Tazz, "maybe a pink slip in the pay envelope."
"How'd you learn perfect English so fast?" asks Kelly with a laugh.
"Those folks sure loved it," says Fink.
Topic shifts to Tazz's match on Smackdown.
"We didn't have much time," says Tazz, "but what we had we made the most of. It was a good show, and nobody got hurt."
Fink says the hot Bakersfield crowd had a lot to do with the success of the match.
"They were all piled one on top of the other in that arena," says Tazz, "though it wasn't like Chicago or New York. Bakersfield is the armpit of California."
"Feel like teaming up with Albert and Scotty again anytime soon?" asks Fink.
"Nah, I'm too much of a lone wolf to make a habit of it," says Tazz.
Topic shifts to Chris Jericho becoming the Unified Champ.
Kelly says there's never been one since 1932.
Tazz says he's wrong, that Tazz was ECW Champ in 1996, which gets a good laugh.
Kelly asks Tazz how he'd describe Chris Jericho?
Tazz says he's the "Top Guy. Chris is capable of taking it to the highest level and has the smarts to keep it there. He's creative and smart, and a good businessman, too."
Tazz goes on to say that it was good for Ric Flair to hand the Title belt to Jericho.
"Do you think he will be a transitional Champ, Tazz?" asks Kelly, "or do you think he's
got some legs under him, and be able to run with it for a while?"
"There are things you can't control in this business," says Tazz (and truer words were never spoken!) "but it's up to you to make the best out of what's handed to you when you walk down the ramp. It's you who's responsible to make everything happen. Even if I don't feel it creatively, I still try to make it work.
"When he first arrived, everybody was saying that Chris Jericho was a talent being miss-used by the WWF. Wrong. It's a growing period. Jericho went through his, just like I'm doing right now. Not everybody comes into the business wearing a Gold Medal around his neck. Jericho doesn't need to prove himself to anyone, and neither do I. No matter what kind of push I got over in ECW, it's what I do in the WWF that determines how far I go. The dirt-sheeters don't understand this. In ECW, I lost one match in a whole year, but it was the boss who determined that, not me. And no wrestler is gonna disagree with the boss about winning matches."
Kelly says that reminds him of Ric Flair, always able to go out there and have a good match with anybody he faced.
"I learned that from Paul E." says Tazz, "to be a great champ, you gotta make your opponent. Selling and bumping makes your opponent, and puts on a good show. That's what being a Champion means."
Kelly asks Tazz's thoughts about the upcoming split in the roster.
"What split?" asks Tazz, back in kayfabe briefly. "Matt and Lita?
"No, seriously, a split would help ease the competition for air-time on Raw and Smackdown," he continues, "currently, we got too much talent competing for too few slots. A roster split makes good sense. Let's see what happens."
Next topic is Tazz's return to commentary on WWF Sunday Night Heat.
Tazz is looking forward to doing it once again, especially this week because the guest is Christian.
"I got heat," crows Tazz, "that show is MINE. I've always had heat and WILL always have heat."
Fink says that the Classic Clips poll is missing another famous moment from past Royal Rumbles, namely, Tazz's debut in the WWF.
"As Michael Cole would say, 'What a Shot!" says Tazz with a laugh.
"By the way," he continues, "Tales from the Hook will originate from Miami next week. I'll be at The Rock's house, doin' the pool thing, and phonin' it in from my cell-phone."
Fink says that Tazz needs to make up Christmas Wish List for the Byte This! Holiday Show. Tazz likes the idea, and says he will work on it.
Kelly says the chat roomers are still going on about Big Country's mom, this time wondering if she would be the one to split the two companies.
"Good question," says Kelly, a bit puzzled.
As Tazz packs it in for another week, the Classic Clips poll has the 'Taker/HBK match just ahead of the HHH/Cactus Jack bout.
Considering that an appropriate lead-in, Big Country runs the HHH "Desire" video, complete with U2 accompaniment.
Kelly says it's the best video he's seen.
The chat roomers want to know about HHH's return to the ring?
"January," says Kelly. Fink can't wait.
With that, Jerry Lawler joins the show.
"Welcome to the WWF, King," says Kelly, "How does it feel to be back?"
"It's great!" says Lawler; "it's as though I'd never left. I can't believe it's been almost nine months; it's seems like it's only been a week."
Kelly remarks on the differing commentary styles between the King and Paul Heyman, stating that Heyman's delivery was a lot darker, a lot edgier. "Paul had a different chemistry with Jim Ross than I did," says Lawler, "Maybe the fans weren't used to it. JR and I took nine years developing our style of commentary. The fans were comfortable with it. I have the fun, while JR keeps the story lines straight. The combination works.
With Paul, it was different. Not bad, just different. It was like he and JR were both driving the story lines, selling the action really hard.
"Then," he continues, "we got September 11th. The fans were getting dark, serious TV constantly, so they were looking for an escape, something they could have fun with and smile again."
"How does your return in Charlotte rank in your scrapbook, King?" asks Fink.
"The best one I ever had was my return to wrestling in 1983," says Lawler, "after I broke my leg. It was in Memphis, and the arena was sold out. I came up through the stage on this platform, and they put on this big entrance like something out of a Kiss concert, pyro, music and everything. Now, this was back when wrestlers usually just walked to the ring for their matches.
"Next was my winning the AWA Championship in 1988 from Curt Hennig, and in front of my hometown crowd.
"But that walk down the ramp in Charlotte, that ranks right up there. As I came down the ramp, Paul Heyman was being dragged up it, kicking and screaming, just raising hell. All I could do was point at him and laugh. Well, the roof came off the building! I've never heard a crowd cheer like that; it sent chills down my spine!"
"In the time you've been gone, King," says Kelly, "there have been some changes in the WWF. Who has been the biggest surprise to you?"
"Kurt Angle, " says Lawler, "no question about it. Fans don't realize how different it is, with him coming from an Olympic background and all. He was impressive before, and he's only gotten better since."
Kelly asks Lawler's opinion of Chris Jericho becoming Unified Champion.
"As the Champion," says Kelly, "he has to wrestle the match different, to put over his opponent. It's a totally changed environment for Jericho, just like it was for Ric Flair, just like it was for you, King. What's the difference like?"
"You have to have a different mind-set," says Lawler, "you have to be less selfish, not an easy thing in a business where self-promotion is the key. If you don't have that different mind-set, there are plenty of guys behind you, just waiting to take your place. As Champion, you have to have the self-confidence that you ARE the Champ, and that you are a breed apart. The key to being a great Champ is to make yourself look easy to beat. You need to help your opponent make the fans believe that he's as good or maybe better than you are that he could take that Title from you any time he wants to. Most guys go into the ring only to make themselves look good. That's okay, but the Championship Title proves that you are the best, doesn't it? So why not get the mindset that you're there to get your opponent over with the fans and give them a good match? That way, everybody wins."
Caller One (Two?) asks "Mr. Mayor" how it's going?
Lawler laughs, saying that (his mayoral campaign) is on the shelf for now.
"How'd you get into doing color commentary?" asks the Caller. "I can see myself sitting at the announcers' table. How do I get into doing that?"
"I was always a good talker before I was a wrestler," says Lawler with a laugh. "Vince McMahon asked me to sit in one day. (Bobby) Heenan, Vince and Macho Man Randy Savage were doing the commentary on the show. Well, one night, just as we were getting ready to go on the air, we looked around and asked, "Where's Randy?" That night, Savage showed up on the competition's TV show. They put me in his seat, and I've been there ever since. It's not the job I wanted when I came to the WWF; I'm a wrestler, first and foremost.
"Commentary's a tough job. It sounds like I'm having fun, but there's a lot of pressure and hard work involved. Sometimes, I'd rather have a ten-minute wrestling match than do commentary. Now THAT'S fun!"
Fink remarks that Lawler has been around for a long time, seen and done a lot, and that the WWF will need him for a long time to come.
"Commentary's away of extending your life in this business," says Lawler. "It's not physical, and you don't risk getting injured. Well, being out there with Jim Ross and Michael Cole can involve some risk. But it's not my first love. I'm a wrestler; I love being in the ring, performing. And it does help with the commentary; it allows you to speak from experience. As far as play-by-play experience, well, Michael Cole comes from radio, and Jim Ross did NFL broadcasts. There's no set way to get into announcing, though it does help to have some broadcasting background."
Kelly changes the topic to the WWFE Holiday party this past week in Stamford.
Lawler says his invitation must have gotten lost in the mail.
The theme for the party was "Passion."
"When does the passion really begin for our business, King?" he asks.
"Well, it happened to me the first time I stepped into the ring," says Lawler. "I'd been a fan since I was a kid."
"As a kid, did you ever fantasize about being a wrestler?" asks Kelly.
"Yeah," says Lawler, "who wouldn't? But I never dreamed I'd actually become a professional wrestler. I got into it through my artistic background. Jerry Fargo wanted to start up a sign company, using his name and my artwork to get things going. I would be doing most of the work, and was just tickled to be associated with him. We became friends, Jerry put me next to some wrestling contacts, and that's when I thought it would be fun to try being a wrestler. Just one match, I told myself, just to see what it was like. Well, one thing led to another, and I got the match. When I stepped into the ring that first time, I was hooked! Whatever it is, adrenaline rush, I don't know, you gotta have it, you feed off it. It's a passion for me, and if you truly have a passion for what you do, you'll do it well."
The next caller wants to know if Lawler's had any luck finding a new Mrs. Lawler?
Lawler gets serious, saying that he hasn't had a lot of luck. For the next bit, Lawler talks about the day he and Stacy split up. The divorce proceedings are ongoing, with very little direct communication between each other.
"The lawyers are handling everything right now," says Lawler resignedly, and there's a definite tired tone to his voice now. "It's in their interest to draw this thing out as long as possible. While this is going on, I can't be looking for a new Mrs. Lawler, though I have met some nice young ladies. Nothing serious, though."
Kelly remarks on the story Lawler's told over at his KingLawler.com website, and how much the fans have learned about Lawler's travails. Did he have any regrets?
"It served a double purpose for me," says Lawler, "it gave me a chance to get some of my feelings out, gave me someone to talk to, since I was there alone. I had hoped that Stacy would read it, and would know how much I cared for her.
"Now," he continues, " I think some of the stuff I wrote was too private, that I was more open than I should have been. Since then, my feelings have changed. If I knew then what I know now, things would have been much different."
Kelly asks if Lawler regretted walking out on the WWF?
"Like I said," says Lawler, "If I knew then what I know now, it would have been different."
Talk shifts to the night Smackdown was in Memphis.
"JR and Bruce Prichard called to say hello, and invite me down to the Pyramid," says Lawler. "They made me feel right at home. Vince had a big hug for me. That was the icebreaker. Had JR not called, I probably wouldn't have gone down there. But when I arrived, it was as if I'd never left.
"Vince told me 'Jerry, you know that the WWF is your home. We want you back whenever you get your personal life straightened out. We'd love to have you back.' It me feel great, because I was worried things have gotten to the point where I would never be asked back."
"What were you thinking when you left, King?" asks Fink.
"It was great to see everybody," says Lawler, "and Vince telling me that the WWF was my home was reassuring. I didn't want to hang around during the taping; I thought I'd be in the way. So I left around 6:30 PM. Next thing you know, I get a phone call at 7:30 PM wanting to know where I was. Vince was looking for me everywhere. He wanted me to go in front of the Memphis crowd and say hello. It would have been tremendous, too, especially since it was the week after September 11th."
Fink says that the WWF will be kicking off 2002 with the Royal Rumble, and would Lawler like to be in the Rumble this year?
"You bet I would," says Lawler, "I've even jumped into one Rumble right from my announce position, remember? Once I even hid under the ring for what seemed like the longest time, but I got into the Rumble, all the same."
Kelly asks if Lawler's made his choices in the WWF Best of the Year poll?
Lawler laughs, and says he'd have to vote for the "Gravy Bowl" match between Trish Stratus and Stacy Keibler. "I got to see that one up close and REAL personal."
Fink wants to know Lawler's thoughts on Torrie Wilson and Stacy Keibler.
"The only problem I have with Stacy is her name," says Lawler with a laugh. "Stacy was one of the first people to come up to me and say how glad she was that I was back. Besides, you know I take a special interest in the ladies matches. Stacy recognized that, and told me how much she appreciated what I do out there. She's easy on the eyes, too. Same goes for Torrie. We've got some great Divas in the WWF."
Fink asks Lawler to answer today's Outthink the Fink question.
"I went to the University of Memphis," says Lawler, "though back then, it was called Memphis State. Great basketball team they got down there."
With compliments and thanks all around, Jerry Lawler takes his leave.
As the show wraps up for another week, Kelly drags announcer trainee Seth Mates onto the set and announces that Mr. Mates has turned 23. Mates' birthday cake is displayed, complete with his porcine effigy and strategically placed candle.
Kelly hoots that Mates is still a rookie, because he can't tell which camera to look at. Kelly gets him to do 23 push-ups, as Fink promos the upcoming WWF house shows.
The Classic Clips Poll winner was the 1998 Royal Rumble match between the Undertaker and Shawn Michaels, just edging out the HHH/Cactus Jack match.
Fink says that the Classic Clips winner was from Royal Rumble PPVs, but none of the choices were drawn from the Royal Rumbles themselves.
Fink wants the 1992 Royal Rumble, and not just an excerpt: he wants the whole thing.
Kelly, taken aback by Fink's vehemence, says you can't show the whole Royal Rumble match; it's too long, though he does agree that the 1992 Royal Rumble was the best one ever.
Next week's the big Byte This! Holiday Special, which gets shilled once more before we get this week's Classic Clip.
Jeez, I'd forgotten it was a Casket Match!
See you next week.
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