|WWF Byte This! by E.C. Ostermeyer||
This is the WWF Byte This! report for Friday, 1 February 2002, and I'm E.C.
On today's show, hosts Kevin Kelly and Howard Finkel chat with Droz about the events surrounding the impending arrival of the NWO. Dr. Tom Prichard calls in his semi-regular report from the minors. Tazz is nowhere to be found. Arn Anderson stops by for some reminiscing and observations on the future of the Only Game In Town. Former Byte This! regular Lucas says goodbye, and Bradshaw phones in a kick in Lucas' ear.
are preceded by a video montage from Smackdown, featuring Ric Flair's emotional return to Norfolk, VA, segued nicely into the return of "Attitude" Stone Cold Steve Austin, who proceeds to knock Vince McMahon's psychological stability and his dental work out of kilter once more.
Kelly's sure that because of what went down on Smackdown, there will be a lot of viewers for this Monday's Raw, if only to see if Vince's head will finally explode.
Fink has been to the Norfolk PX because he's sporting a Navy baseball cap with "Naval Station Norfolk" emblazoned on it. He says that one can only speculate what Vince will do, now that Steve Austin has in effect told Vince to heel with you, bring on the NWO and see what it gets you.
With that, it's time for "Droz's Two Cents," Darren Drozdov's weekly review of all things WWF.
Droz says that from what he's seen, it looks like Vince is trying to keep a group of individuals at or near his own age. This is unusual, as the key to the WWF's success was how it pushed the younger rising stars back during the Monday Night Wars with WCW. At the same time, WCW and the NWO had a top card that was heavy with older talent that monopolized the airtime, and kept the younger guys either played very seldom, or not played at all. This was why Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit left WCW.
Kelly points out that, if it wasn't for Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, and Hulk Hogan decamping from the WWF to WCW way back when, he and other rising stars wouldn't have had the chance to grow as they did.
On this note, the topic shifts to the mood in the WWF locker room. Fink says that, from what he's seen, the WWF locker room is not a bunch of happy campers. However, they are, for the most part, adopting a "wait and see" attitude about the rumored return of the NWO.
Asked if he has heard anything along a similar vein, Droz says that he hasn't, but that doesn't mean that there's not cause for concern out there. He does know that wrestlers like Jericho and Benoit, who came over from WCW during the reign of the NWO know what it was like back then.
"Older guys taking all of the time," says Droz, "throwing twenty-thirty punches and nobody selling for anybody, Nobody going down, nobody helping the other guy get over, nobody doing the job. A bad, bad situation that I hope we never see in the WWF."
Kelly agrees, and describes why he liked the NWO idea at first.
"They were always doing something different," he says, "you never knew what was going to happen next. Then, after a while, seems like everybody was a member of the NWO. Then you had NWO "Red and Black," and NWO "Black and White," and things started going in the wrong direction."
Droz concurs, saying that they'd better come up with something to keep the fans interested in the NWO angle, and that it better have a positive impact.
Kelly says that the NWO will make an impact, though he's not sure if they want it to be a positive one.
"Vince says that the NWO are poison," says Kelly, "he's tried to use the threat of their return to get his company back. Now that Ric Flair and Steve Austin have in effect thrown down the gauntlet and said, "Bring 'em on and see what it gets you!" it will be interesting to see who joins which side."
Fink adds that he's heard that the NWO is working on getting a website up and running, so be sure to watch for it, kids!
Topic segues nicely into Ric Flair's emotional return to Norfolk, VA.
(chyron dutifully shows a tearful Flair in front of the hot Norfolk crowd.)
Droz says that it was an emotional roller coaster of a night for Rick Flair.
"He arrived in Norfolk," says Droz, "knowing that he had to give in to Mr. McMahon's wishes, or watch the NWO destroy yet another promotion. He was in WCW when the NWO were running roughshod over everybody, including himself, and he didn't want to see that happening again. Then, later on, he and Steve Austin put the kibosh on Vince's plans to get the WWF all for himself. In effect, they are daring Vince to bring on the NWO and see what it gets him."
Fink and Kelly bring up the rumored breakup of HHH and Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley, a subject near and dear to Droz's heart.
"I laughed out loud when HHH shoved her suitcase at her and slammed the door," says Droz, "that look on her face was priceless, just the funniest thing I ever saw. Stephanie may have capitalized on that whole "McMahon-Helmsley name act, but she's risen to the top on HHH's coat-tails, and nothing else. HHH better watch out, though. Stephanie's a powerful woman in this business, and it takes balls to be on her bad side and survive."
Kelly makes a snide comment about Stephanie's Smackdown interview with Good Ol' JR, and bragging about being too much of a woman for HHH to handle.
Which, of course, leads to this week's obligatory rag-fest on Big Country's Mom. We get the "Artist Formerly Known As Chyna" poster on the chyron for the umpteenth time, with Big Country's face pasted on it (for the umpteenth time as well,) and great is the merriment derived therefrom.
Kelly does BC's Mom's voiceover in a squeaky castrati-like falsetto, and makes a number of off-color references to how HHH liked her in the sack better than Stephanie.
A particularly outrageous reference to a "six-way" with Degeneration X gets a VERY loud noise out of Big Country.
("Six-way?" Let's see... HHH, Shawn Michaels, (pre-Whyspyr, of course), Road Dogg,(icky!) Billy Gunn, (double icky!) X-Pac (triple icky!), and ...
...ack! Now I know why Kelly likes the chyron picture so much. The sick-o.)
Droz bails, and it's time for "Outfink the Think," as Fink calls it.
Fink says that he's been getting peeved at the quality of the crap they are handing out as prizes for contestants winning his contest.
"A T-shirt. Another T-shirt. A promotional poster." Says Fink, "It's pathetic. You'd think the ShopZone people would come up with something more original."
Kelly takes the opportunity to blatantly shill for the ShopZone folks.
Fink gives him a look of distaste, and continues.
"This week's winner will win a HHH "BobbleHead" Doll," says Fink, "BobbleHead dolls are always stylish. Well, the winner will win my PERSONAL HHH "BobbleHead" doll, from my collection."
This week's question is, "What was Pedro Morales' hometown on Puerto Rico?"
Kelly and Fink do a couple of Pedro Morales imitations, and giggle like they've been sharing a cylinder of nitrous between them.
Kelly is informed that Dr. Tom Prichard is standing by on the phone with news from the "developmental territories," (i.e. the minors.)
Dr. Tom asks if it's a slow news day?
Kelly says no, Tazz isn't on the show this week, but otherwise, things are hopping.
Dr. Tom says that they forgot to use Pedro Morales' catch-phrase "Giv eet to heem, mon! Giv eet to heem!" ho ho.
"How was the road trip to Cincinnati and Louisville, Dr. Tom?" asks Fink.
"Great trip, just wonderful," says Dr. Tom, "I had a great time in both Ohio Valley Wrestling and the Heartland Wrestling Association. I have seen the future of the WWF this past week. Lots of the guys I saw were making big improvements in their careers. One of the biggest surprises was former New Orleans Saint, Big Bad John."
"Isn't he over six and a half feet tall?" asks Kelly.
"Yeah," says Dr. Tom, " and about as wide; he's a monster!"
Dr. Tom talks about wrestlers making a change in their career.
"It doesn't have to be an enormous change," says Dr. Tom, "there's things I see and I tell the wrestler, 'Here, do this thing, or take your time more on this, or just work on one thing at a time,' and you see that they do just that. They get that one little thing either into or out of their system, and the improvement is something to see. John did just that, and what an improvement he's made in just three weeks!"
Dr. Tom also says that we should be on the lookout for a wrestler named "Mr. California," who is making a big impression down there, with his match against OVW's The Prototype.
Kelly, Fink and Dr. Tom all reminisce about the Danny Davis Arena in Louisville, "a place so classic," says Dr. Tom, "you can smell the sweat from last week!"
Kelly says that's so, but that, sadly, the Danny Davis Arena is not going to be big enough for the crowds that OVW's drawing. "We are looking for a new building," says Kelly, "maybe the Louisville Gardens."
The Byte This! chat room has been percolating along while the show has been on, and a chatter wants to know when Nidia is going to be on Raw or Smackdown?
Dr. Tom says that Nidia's been doing well in OVW and HWA; in fact, she and Victoria had a tag match against Helena Heavenly of HWA and Donna Daring of OVW at Jillian's in Cincinnati last week, and really put on a good show. "She needs to work more on her body, though," says Dr. Tom, "fill out some more. "Maven?" says Dr. Tom, "Maven's a prodigy, somebody that comes along once in a lifetime"
Kelly remarks that Nidia's already got a good rack...of lamb.
"We're not talking about lamb here, man," says Dr. Tom, "we are talking about having a good match."
On the subject of Maven, Dr. Tom says that Maven had a great match with Chris Jericho. "First, he eliminates the Undertaker from the Royal Rumble," Says Dr. Tom, "then, he's in a match for the Undisputed Title the very next week! You know he was nervous. Who wouldn't be in those circumstances? As green as he was, you'd have expected him to go out there and fall all over himself, but he didn't. He stepped up and put on a great match with Jericho. If he keeps his head on straight, nobody is going to stop Maven!"
Fink wants to know what the feeling is in the territories about Maven getting his shot at the top before a lot of them do?
"I've heard that," says Dr. Tom, "and I tell 'em, 'you don't want to be called up until you are ready. If you get called up too soon, it's a mistake, and it could really damage your chances of getting called up again. A lot of guys need to get moved up, or out as the case may be. With some, they shouldn't get focused on wrestling in the WWF as the only goal in their life. I check the tapes and watch them practice, and I can tell what they need to do to improve, where they need to go, and if it's time for them to move up.
"Or, in some cases," he continues, "to move on. Take Big Bad John, for instance. For two weeks, he wasn't showing me anything. Then, all of a sudden, something clicked with him, and he's getting it. When the time comes, they get the call, and they perform in front of the agents. That's the way it's done."
As Dr. Tom packs up for yet another trip into the wilds of Ohio, he asks if the rumors about Lucas are true, that he's leaving the WWF?
Kelly confirms that it's true, and Dr. Tom wishes Lucas the best of luck, and
"Oh, yeah, get me an update on the Infernos and JC Dykes, how about it?"
As Droz leaves the show, Kelly gives a short biopic of Lucas, from his days on the early WWF Byte This! show and a part of the WWFdotcom group, to his bad career move over to the XFL.
"Well, folks," says Kelly, "it's the end of an era, because today's Lucas' last day with the WWF!"
Fink says that Big Country should make a phone call "to Texas. If you get my drift."
The guys take a break, and we get to watch a Classic Clip from the old "WCW Monday Nitro" show, complete with that crummy old yellow-logo'ed gray wrestling ring, and a prepubescent Tony Schiavone being upstaged by The Consummate Showman himself, Bobby "The Brain" Heenan.
(You are in our prayers, Mr. Heenan. Heal up and get well, okay?)
It's a rare singles match from 1995 between Arn Anderson and Ric Flair. Despite Big Country's heavy-handed meat-axe-style editing, the match runs more than seven minutes. AA and Flair are just selling each other's moves like the professionals they are. AA wins the match with help from Brian Pillman, who kicks Flair right in the back of the head from the ring apron! What a move! Flair selling the move as only he can, goes down like a pole-axed steer, and bounces twice on the mat for extra effect. Heenan's screeching himself hoarse, and Schiavone's apparently "struck with tongues."
(Ah. The Good Old Days! WWF couldn't touch WCW back then. From this one match, you can see why. These guys were having FUN! Getting paid for it was incidental; they were out there having a ball doing what they, more than anything else in the whole world, wanted to do.
Flair himself said he wanted to wrestle more than he wanted to be with his family. THAT'S dedication!)
Arn Anderson joins the show, and the "Respect Meter" of everybody on the show just jumps off the scale.
Kelly asks about last Thursday's Smackdown, and the vignette Anderson and Flair did backstage towards the end of the show.
"What can you say?" ask AA, "we didn't have time to set it up. It just happened, and that'' what made it such a great moment. You drive the roads every year, and you know a guy, sometimes better than you know yourself. The one guy that has always been there for me has been Ric Flair. To see him in the WWF, and being able to hold his head high once more, that's a great thing to have happen."
Kelly remarks that it seems like Flair has been coming out of his shell since returning to the WWF.
"He got that shell from the final days of WCW," says AA, " he and I were taught that it's a basic work ethic and knowledge of this business that you live by and then pass on to those who come after you. That's called "Old School."
"Well," he continues, "Ric, myself, and a lot of other guys were forced to be involved with a lot of garbage, to see things that were harmful to the business, and to not have any say in the subject. And after a while, it just beats you down, having what you've been taught all your life to respect and revere the business you are in, and then get it all tossed aside by people using the company for their own entertainment and personal gain, it's a bad situation indeed."
Fink asks who was running things at WCW during this time?
"No one," says AA, "despite rumors to contrary, nobody was running things. Flair and I were what you'd call a couple of straw bosses. We were bearers of a word that nobody gave two hoots about, not the wrestlers, not the bosses, nobody. When the boss doesn't care about what's going on, you are in trouble. You get to the point where you just stop having an opinion. It took me 18 years of hard work to get that opinion, and the way things were going over there, well, it just became a job to me. And that's one thing you don't want to have happen."
Fink asks AA to describe his return to the WWF.
"The last days of WCW were...well, "gray" doesn't cover it," says AA, "we didn't know who was going to buy the company, or even if it was going to be bought at all! Lots of rumors were flying around, and a lot of the guys weren't going to work because they weren't sure if they'd be employed the next day or not, and why get injured if you didn't have to? Why damage the goods? With that kind of thing going on, trying to put on any kind of show is impossible.
"Take for instance," he continues, "that one group of investors that was interested in buying WCW, and they just sat on the couch in somebody's office, watching the show, and never showed up in the arena at all. One Nitro, we even saved some ringside seats for them, but they never showed. These guys had no knowledge of the wrestling business, and frankly, it sacred me to death that they were the ones who would buy WCW. I was praying, literally praying for Vince McMahon and the WWF to buy us out. And now there's all this talk about Vince owning a monopoly. Well, if the guy who owns the monopoly is the guy who has done the most for wrestling, I say it's the best thing that could have happened!"
A chat room chatter wants to know if AA wishes he'd had more of a singles career?
"I've had success as a singles wrestler," says AA, "but I've always been a fan of tag wrestling. It goes back to Dick Slater and Bob Orton Jr. They were my inspiration. A singles match can't compete with a well-structured tag match with both teams working as hard as they can to put on a good show. Even a World Title match would have a hard time competing against a good tag match. So, I just seemed to gravitate towards the tag team action. Could I have done better as a single? I don't know, and I sometimes kick myself because if it."
Kelly asks him about his return to the WWF?
"That last Nitro show," says AA, "everybody was angling for a job with the new company, everything was very political, nobody knew what was going to happen. I went over to where Shane (McMahon) and Pat (Patterson) and (Jerry) Briscoe were, tapped Shane on the shoulder, and told him, 'I hope I see you down the road.' Well, I just want to tell all of you 'Thank You' for welcoming me in.
"You know," says AA, getting a little choked up, "I hadn't seen Stephanie since she was ten years old. Yet, when I came back, Stephanie was talking to some other people, and made eye contact with me. She broke off her conversation, and walked over to me.
'I just wanted you to know," she said, 'that myself and my family are very, very happy that you are here.'
What a classy thing to say! I almost fell down. It just proves what a class bunch Vince McMahon and he family are."
Fink asks about what it takes to be a good tag team.
"Tully (Blanchard) and I were together about four years," says AA, "Demolition, The Midnight Express, both together for a long time. Tag teams of the past spent years together, getting to know each other. Nowadays, you get tag teams that are thrown together for the moment, for the 'right now,' with no thought to the future. What you've got in the ring isn't two tag teams, it's really four singles wrestlers! They need to re-emphasize the 'team' aspect of tag team wrestling. That's the only way it will survive."
The first caller wants to know if AA plans on returning to the ring?
"No," says AA, "my career as a wrestler is over. I had some neck surgery. They did a laminectomy on my C7, T1, T2, and T3 (neck and shoulder vertebrae). I've got some paralysis in my left hand. Even so, I still do the gym every day, and I've got a good job with the WWF. If I got back in the ring, like as not, I'd end up in a wheel chair for the rest of my life."
Fink remarks that a lot of the wrestlers look to AA for guidance and advice on their careers.
"A lot of times," says AA, "I get so embarrassed that I have to sneak off somewhere and get rid of the tears. These guys are on the top of this fish-bowl of a business, and they are asking me for advice. It's very humbling.
"It's also fun," he continues, "because I've gotten to meet some of my idols in this business. Rocky Johnson, for instance. I was fourteen, and he was the first wrestler I saw who had a body on him. I wanted a body like that, so I started lifting weights. Well, here's The Rock coming up to me, me, who has idolized his dad, a kid who has come so far so fast, and he's asking ME for advice! It's humbling, all right!"
"What advice do you give them, Arn?" asks Kelly.
"'Do whatever's good for the business,' is what I tell them," says AA, "sometimes they don't want to hear that, but that's what being "Old School" is about. If it's my job to tell them what they don't want to hear, then so be it. What I tell 'em is right, no matter what they may think about it."
Fink asks AA's thoughts on the Dudley Boyz, and how they'd stack up to Tully and Arn?
"Once again," says AA, "you've got a classic tag team because Bubba Ray and D-Von have been together for so long. They know each other down to the smallest detail. It's a classic tag team, too, with D'Von doing Tully's part, taking the abuse, and setting the opponent up for the sting that Bubba Ray, the strength guy will deliver. What's different is that Tully and I had better stamina, because our matches sometimes lasted 20-30 minutes. You've got to keep your wind."
Caller Two asks about the pending return of the NWO, and the parody the old NWO did of the Four Horsemen.
"Initially, I thought it was a personal attack," says AA, "but then I saw it wasn't directed at me, but at the idea of the Four Horsemen itself. The Four Horsemen was a phenomenon of that particular time, and could never be recreated, no matter how hard it was tried. Nothing could tarnish the reputation of the Four Horsemen. The NWO tried, but heck, that was just because they were on top at the time, and were trying to stay there.
Everybody takes time to congratulate the WWF Production Staff for the great job they did on the WWF History video seen on last Monday's Raw show. AA says that it was one of the most professionally done videos ever done, and he's proud to have been featured on it.
"I had to walk away and have a cry after it was over," says AA, "but it was a pleasant cry because of all the history involved.
As for the rumored return of the NWO, AA isn't worried, but strikes a cautionary note.
"I look at it as the return of Hulk Hogan," says AA, "Hulk Hogan, who, no matter what his views may be, is still Hulk Hogan. He's been in the gym every day, and looks just great. He's got a couple of good fights still left in him. Kevin Nash is still tough, still salty. Scott Hall's had time to heal up and get ready.
"So," he continues "these three guys are going to walk through the front door one day, and you can bet they are going to be a threat. Even without the NWO tag, they'd still be a threat. What is going to happen is that you are going to see who puts their egos aside and puts the good of the company first. Remember, you've got wrestlers who can't agree on something as simple as where to eat lunch. Ric Flair's got to rally the WWF Locker room and keep them in line, get them all on the same page. Otherwise, it'll be the same thing that happened to WCW all over again. People are going to get hurt, and badly, if the company doesn't pull together. You'll wind up with everybody being a victim."
Arn Anderson closes his segment by thanking everybody in the WWF for giving him the opportunity to have fun coming to work once more.
"I'm one of the few people in the world who get to work at a job they love," he says, "and I want to thank you all for that."
Thanks all around from Kelly and Fink, and AA leaves the show.
Answer to today's "Outfink the Think," (Fink's mis-pronunciation is deliberate this time):
Pedro Morales hails from Culebra, Puerto Rico.
Lucas Swinford (Kelly does his own deliberate mispronunciation with "Swine-ford") joins the team, and we get a four minute "Lucas' Bloopers and Out Takes" video.
Best one is The Rock asking "Who IS this jabronie, and what are we paying him to ask these stupid questions?"
To which Lucas replies like a shot, "I'm Lucas, and they pay me about a dollar a day to do this!"
This gets him the fabled Eyebrow.
Back to the studio, where Lucas says that Bradshaw is finally running him out of town for real this time.
Fink asks where he's going, really, and Lucas says he's joining the United States Tennis Association; he's going to be Anna Kournikova's personal sweater wiper-upper, ho ho.
To the phones, and who should be caller, but good ol' John Bradshaw of the APA!
"Kev," says Bradshaw, "you got one helluva show there. Arn Anderson's the guest, and now Lucas is leaving! This could be one of the best shows on the Internet!"
Lucas says that he's had a love-hate relationship with Bradshaw over the years...
"More like 'hate-hate' if you ask me," growls Bradshaw. "You still got no sense at all about this business. Hell you don't even know the ring's got four corners!"
"Now that I'm out of the business," says Lucas, "can we hang out together?"
This cracks up Kelly and Fink.
Bradshaw says even Rebecca Romijn-Stamos doesn't like Lucas.
Some bright light from the Chat Room wants to know if Bradshaw got to "poke" Ms. Stamos?
"We looked like a Hallmark card, all cuddled up and everything..." begins Bradshaw.
Lucas retorts that he and Rebecca got along just fine, just like he and Bradshaw's wife do.
"Now you're talkin' about my wife, Lucas..." says Bradshaw. "In all seriousness, kid, good luck on whatever it is you are gonna do. I'm gonna miss you. Oh, and I'd lose that cell number of mine, if I were you!"
"No problem," says Lucas, "I still have your email address," and you can almost hear Bradshaw beating his head against the wall.
"Balls, huh?" Bradshaw says, "Tennis balls? Lucas with ANY kind of balls is an oxymoron!"
"Hey," asks Lucas, "with me being out of the company, can I ask you for some advice on stocks?"
"Yeah," chimes in Kelly, "me too. My portfolio's looking pretty shaky these days..."
Which segues nicely into a brief discussion on Bradshaw's upcoming book on financial planning and investment that he's co-authoring with Cody Monk.
Release date should be "soon," according to Bradshaw, and no, Lucas can't have a personally autographed copy.
"You're gonna get a personally autographed boot in the ear, is what you're gonna get," says Bradshaw, and hangs up.
"Wow, I'm moving up in the world!" says Lucas, "from a boot in the ass, to a boot in the ear!"
Fink and Kelly both take the opportunity to rag on Big Country's mom once more, with the pic on the chyron and all.
Lucas is in stitches, because he took the photo.
"I used to date Lucas!" says Kelly, doing BC's mom, " I cheated on my husband... with Lucas! He threw me into the back of his rental car and used me like a bad piece of luggage."
"Take the still down, please" says a miffed dead-pan BC.
"He told me I was naughty..." continues Kelly in a squeaky voice
(The chyron now has the scary pic of BC's mom looking like Julia Child on LSD.)
"Yeesh!" says Kelly, "that one looks like Janet Reno before she fell down in Rochester!"
"...then he made me do bad things." Kelly, again, back in falsetto, "Bad things, like taking his..."
"Hey! Lucas is leaving!" shouts Big Country, "Lucas is leaving! Goodbye, Lucas! Thanks for coming by, Lucas..."
(On the chyron, they throw in the pic of Paul Heyman's "Skullet" for good measure.)
Since there's no going - away cake, Fink decides to get Announcer-in-Training Seth Mates to come on camera and do push-ups until he's unconscious.
Mates complies with all the alacrity of a galley slave who has just learned that the Captain wants to go water-skiing.
As Mates does his push-ups, Fink does the Upcoming Events Calendar shill.
2 Feb - Vancouver, BC
2 Feb - Tucson, AZ (a sell-out)
3 Feb - Reno, NV (Lawler Event Center for "Pre-Super Bowl Pandemonium.")
3 Feb - Seattle, WA (Key Arena)
4 Feb - Las Vegas, NV (Thomas and Mack Center) for Raw
5 Feb - Los Angeles. CA (Staples Center) for the Smackdown taping.
Fink gets in a "Rollerball" plug as well.
The last shot from the Byte This! set shows Mates unconscious on the floor. Looks like he did about thirty or so push - ups.
The show ends with them showing the "WWF History" video in its entirety.
See you next week.
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