|WWF Byte This! by E.C. Ostermeyer||
This is the WWF Byte This! report, (better late than never,) for Friday, 1 March 2002, and I'm E(xtra) C(rispy.)
(Author' note:This is an abbreviated report this week, owing to the fact that wwfdotcom saw fit to not post the show on their website until Tuesday of this week.)
The appalling "Fan Appreciation" Raw of 4 March 2002 is in the books, a show that was neither for the fans, nor appreciated. The hog is in the tunnel for Vince McMahon's little puppet show morality play. The Big Event, Wrestlemania X-8 is just two weeks away, and things aren't looking too good, at least from where this fan sits.
Prior to the
We get a vignette of Steve Austin being interviewed by Michael Cole about his being signed to wrestle Scott Hall at Wrestlemania X-8. The word "What?" is used with abandon.
During the Opening Credits, Sister Mary Discipline pinches Austin's cheek real hard. Austin's getting that "Look" on his face. Looks like it's whoop-ass time!
Dr. Tom Prichard is sitting in for Howard Finkel, who is down in Tampa, FL. The ubiquitous Kevin Kelly is back from Cincinnati OH.
Time for "Droz's Two Cents," Darren Drozdov's weekly review of all things WWF. Droz joins the show, and right off the bat starts ragging on Stephanie McMahon. "Let's face it, guys," says Droz, "she's a bitch! I mean, all that nonsense about the lotion, and making Chris Jericho jump through hoops. That'll get old real fast!"
Droz also gives credit to Goldust for becoming the WWF Hardcore Champ in true "Old School" style, by invoking the "24/7" rule. (I bet Maven would like to punch Crash Holly right in the head for initiating that little codicil attached to the Hardcore Title defense.) Droz bails out, with the usual goodbyes from the team on stage.
While we are waiting for the next segment, Kelly gets in a shot on Big Country's mom, comparing her, ummm, "playing field" to that of Stephanie's. Byte This! producer Big Country says something truly appalling off camera, to which Dr. Tom reacts in horror. "Jeez, Country," says Dr. Tom, "Do you kiss your mom with that mouth?"
"...(?)... Country kisses his mom on the mouth?!" asks Kelly.
"That's not what I said, Kevin," says Dr. Tom, a bit peeved that Kelly's already doing dumb jokes, and the show's not yet fifteen minutes old.
Howard Finkel joins the show, but Kelly's not done yet, asking if Dr. Tom finished Missy Hyatt's new book? "How big was HER "playing field," Dr. Tom?" asks Kelly with a smirk. "Uhhh, lets not go there, please" says Dr. Tom.
Fink's having a great time in Tampa at the NY Yankees spring training camp. He then shifts gears to talk about the WWF's success on the tour of the Orient. Fink has "Da Newz" on the Yokohama show, a sell-out from all reports, with many new fans being made. Singapore should be even more of a success, as will Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Apparently Dr. Tom speaks Japanese. Kelly asks Dr. Tom to translate "What?' into Japanese. Dr. Tom gets a little too much into the role, and ends up sounding like a badly- dubbed Gamera movie.
"Outthink the Fink" this week has to do with Wrestlemania Five. Who were the on-air female co-hosts in each of the three locations the show was broadcasting from? Winner gets a Tazz T-shirt.
Fink's two questions for Scott Hall are how he'd compare the WWF now to the way it was when Hall was Razor Ramon ten years ago, and also, has he beat his demons?
Fink gets in his shills for the house shows, and then goes in search of D'Lo Brown. Fink will be gone next week to Sarnia (sp?) Ontario, Canada, so Dr. Tom will be co-hosting again. Dr. Tom is thrilled with being notified of his new duties earlier than he was for today's show.
Kelly tells Fink to go score some crack outside the Tampa Sportatorium, that it's a popular place for that activity. Dr. Tom is stunned that Kelly would even think of saying that on the air.
Fink departs without another word.
Kelly and Dr. Tom discuss the WWF wrestling camp in Cincinnati, along with those who attended it. "It was a learning experience for them and us," says Dr. Tom, "Some people got it, and some didn't." Dr. Tom stops at this point, goggling at a particularly foul Instant Message from the Byte This! ChatRoom. "Ain't modern technology great?" asks Kelly.
This segues nicely into Tazz's "Tales from the Hook," and Tazz is all enthused over the new season of "Tough Enough 2."
(Tazz is babysitting his kids today, taking them somewhere in the car. And what a terrifying thought that is!)
About the "Tough Enough 2 Casting Special" show, Dr. Tom cracks up about Tazz taking it to contestant "Dan the Mouth," who had been badmouthing Tazz on his promo tape and in the interview segment. Dr. Tom is mightily impressed with Tazz's climbing out of the black Hummer, and coming down hard on Dan. "He wasn't such a tough guy then, was he?" snickers Tazz. Tazz and Dr. Tom agree that this year's show is going to be great, especially since producer Kevin Dunn flew Tazz across the country just to get in Dan's face! "He needed to get an attitude adjustment and he got one," says Tazz.
Reviews of the show are great. Kelly remarks that there are a lot of lovely young ladies on the show this time around. "We get to work out the, ummm, "kinks," if you know what I mean," says Tazz.
Tazz is not a full-time trainer on this year's show, because of other commitments he has. Dr. Tom says he talked with Tough Enough Women's Champ Nidia, who told him her team would dread the days Tazz would show up. Tazz says back then he deliberately tried to get extra miserable just before he showed up to train on Tough Enough, just so the contestants would get that extra little "something" in their training.
Tazz then takes a couple more bites out of the new contestants, and then waxes poetic about Tough Enough Coordinator "Big John." "He does a lot behind the scenes," says Tazz, "he's the guy who holds that show together, so I gotta kiss his ass..." "...otherwise TE 3 is Tazz-free, huh?" finishes Kelly with a smirk. "Yeah, exactly," says Tazz," and speaking of TE 3, I gotta scoop for you. The house for Tough Enough 3 will be on DeKalb Avenue in the Hook! We are taking the kids to the Hook! And no Bahamas for vacation, either! They go to Newark, New Jersey!"
Kelly remarks that Tazz 's buddy Tommy Tickets is stiffing customers on Wrestlemania tickets. Tazz says that Tommy's not in the country at present. He's in Montreal pushing the "Celine Dion Shootfighting Tournament." "Never give Tommy cash," says Tazz, "Credit card only! Be smart!"
Kelly asks Tazz's thoughts about the Amy Fisher/Tonya Harding boxing PPV that's upcoming. "Tonya Hard-on and who?" asks Tazz, "Amy- hey, that's Buttafuoco's tomato! She lives over by the, uhh...better not give THAT away. Ah-h-h-h, t'll be a ratfight. You put these two slamhounds in the ring and they fight. What's the big deal?" Kelly and Dr. Tom both crack up at this.
"And all you transcribers out there on the 'Net," says Tazz to Yours Truly, "that's one word, spelled S-L-A-M-H-O-U-N-D-S!"
About WWF Sunday Night Heat, Tazz takes a big swipe at Jonathan Coachman for mimicking Tazz's old-time Gordon Solie-style wrestling voice, and how he gets bored with Coach telling him about his Barry Manilow collection. Tazz gets really hot about Coach constantly jabbering at him during the show. "Finally I gotta lean over and holler 'Hey, Coach! Would'ja just SHUT UP? Nobody wants to hear you!"
Everybody takes a swipe at Michael "The Bitter Little Man" Cole.
Tazz says he's gotta go. Kelly wishes Tazz could stay longer. Tazz tells Kelly to kiss his ass.
While we are waiting for Scott Hall to show up, we get a video of Steve Austin's match with Curt "Mr. Perfect" Hennig on Raw last Monday night, and the arrival of the NWO to exact revenge on Austin. Specifically Austin's right knee. With a "cinder block." (You can just see the label "Property of the WWF Props Department" on the cinder block, too.)
Back to the studio, where Scott Hall still hasn't arrived on the scene. Kelly and Dr. Tom decide to take a call, and get Ronny from Rogersville, Tennessee, who sounds like some guy from WAY back in the sticks.
(I mean this guy's got such a flannel-mouth, goober-grabber, 'minimal dental work' Southern accent that he just HAS to be putting it on.)
Well, the conversation goes back and forth for about five minutes, Ronny trying to get a question in, while Kelly and Dr. Tom make fun of the way he talks and try hard not to laugh out loud right in his face. Ronny, who's single, wants to talk with Scott Hall, who hasn't arrived yet. Kelly asks what Ronny wants to do with his life? Ronny says he wants to be the owner of the World Wrestling Federation. Dr. Tom is biting his clipboard real hard, trying to control himself. Kelly tells Ronny to hang up the phone, Vince McMahon wants to call him right back. Ronny complies...
...and at this point, Scott Hall shows up, live on the phone.
Dr. Tom says he misses Scott Hall, and recalls their old days in the WWF. Hall says he is driving down to Tampa at 70 mph. He's got Stone Cold Steve Austin waiting for him at the Tampa SunDome tonight.
Hall says he's glad to have the opportunity to wrestle again in the WWF. "I never burned all my bridges when I left," says Hall, "so I'm glad to be back."
Dr. Tom asks how Hall likes being called "poison" and a "cancer" in the WWF? Hall says that it doesn't bother him. "A long time ago," he says, "I learned from Chief Jay Strongbow that, in this business, you can make friends, or you can make money. Pro Wrestling's not a popularity contest, it's a business. With Vince McMahon in charge, it's a BIG business."
Hall says he's not Internet-savvy, doesn't read the sheets. "I've turned into one of the old guys that I once took shots at," laughs Hall.
About the causes of the downfall of WCW, Hall says that WCW wasn't equipped to handle the success that came way too fast to that promotion. "They couldn't handle the merchandising or the promotion the way Vince and the WWF could," says Hall, "the people in charge had no clue what to do. As for joining WCW, well, I had to provide for my family, my kids. So, my last night at the Garden as Razor Ramon, yeah, I sold out. I did it totally for the dollars, and so would anybody else."
Dr. Tom asks if the older wrestlers in WCW kept the younger ones like Chris Jericho and Dean Malenko down to protect their own careers? Hall says that he's seen the depositions on this (?), and that he got in trouble putting guys over in matches when he should have been beating them.
"As for keeping other wrestlers down," he says, "you can't. If a guy wants to move up, nothing will stop him from moving up. Display your ability, and you'll get noticed, and pushed." Kelly presses the matter, and Hall says he just answered the question. Besides, he had some personal problems, as Kelly well knows. "I was too busy trying to hold myself together, so I had no time to hold anybody else down," says Hall.
Things get a bit testy for a bit, but Dr. Tom smoothes things over by shifting the topic to Wrestlemania. Hall takes the opportunity to thank Vince McMahon for allowing him to spend time with his kids (he's a single father) and also to face Steve Austin at Wrestlemania. "How cool is that?" asks Hall, "I am real excited about this."
Dr. Tom asks if Hall believes he has the capacity to keep the demons away this time? Hall reminds Dr. Tom of the time they both killed the better part of twelve (!) cases of beer at a single sitting. Hall then says he's the one who has decided not to drink this time.
He's cool with people constantly asking about his alcoholism. "When you and I broke in, Dr. Tom," says Hall, you know what it was like. If you didn't drink beer, the other guys didn't trust you. But these new guys who come in through the Power Plant, or the OVW, or Tough Enough, they don't have that kind of pressure on them; they've got a lot more to worry about than having a beer."
Kelly wants to know how many years Hall has left in him? "I'm signed for two years," says Hall, "my son's coming to the show tonight with some of his friends. I want him to see that pro wrestling is an honorable profession, and that I love it, and that, although I made some bad decisions in my life, I'm doing what I enjoy right now."
To the phones, where the first caller, Scott, asks if Hall and the NWO are trying to hold down Test and Edge? "I haven't held them down before," says Hall, "but since you asked that question, I'll be sure to do just that." "This is a business, Scott," Hall continues, "I'm not smart enough to hold anybody down. I'm looking to help the other guy to make me look good, so we both get paid, and you get entertained." "Boy the paranoia out there is just rampant, isn't it?" asks Dr. Tom with a smirk. "You know it," says Scott Hall.
Kelly asks Hall to compare the old days at the WWF to today. "Back then, there were no props, no out-of-ring action unless you had permission, no tables, DEFINITELY no hand gestures," says Hall, "Now, Vince allows us to use all the tools to sell the product. That's what he has done. He's the real genius in this."
Hall reflects on the decision to move to WCW that he, Nash and Hogan made. "Leaving the Garden that night felt bad," says Hall, "but we did it for the money. It was a LOT of money. We knew that we were going to a production that was, let's face it, second rate, but they were offering way more money, and that's why we went."
Dr. Tom remarks that he can tell that Scott Hall has the fire in his belly again, that he has recovered the passion for what he does. "I did the Figure Four thing with Ric Flair in North Carolina!" crows Hall, "Me and Ric Flair! Who couldn't get excited about doing that."
Hall's pulling into a rest stop to take a pee, and asks if they still want to keep doing the interview? In unison, Kelly and Dr. Tom both enthusiastically say YES!
Kelly asks what Hall's feeling about wrestling Steve Austin in Tampa and at Wrestlemania? "Man, talk about putting the pressure on me, especially since I'm in the men's room now," laughs Hall. We get a noise like a stall door being closed.
Kelly asks if Hall knows that other wrestlers watch tapes of his matches? Hall chuckles, then does a big "Ah-h-h-h-h-h-h...!" There's a sound of running water. "One of life's great pleasures, huh, Scott?" asks Kelly.
Kelly asks about how the match with Austin will go? "All Austin has to do is to try to punch the one in the middle," laughs Hall.
Kelly winds the segment up, and thanks Scott Hall for being on the show.
With Hall gone, Dr. Tom says he hopes Scott Hall has what it takes at Wrestlemania. "Otherwise," says Kelly, "it'll be like that trip to the men's room we just heard. Flush-h-h-h-h! And that'll be it for Scott Hall."
(Jeez, Kelly, can you get ANY colder?)
Kelly and Dr. Tom say that next week's guest will be Vince McMahon, live in the studio, if possible. "I'm just sorry that Howard won't be here," says Kelly, "with his longing looks, and the fawning, and the "I'm-the-oldest-employee" thing."
Kelly then takes a couple of swipes at Big Country. BC counters by saying that he wants to have Ronny from Tennessee be Kelly's new partner. "Maybe he will have his own segment," says BC, "we can use some of your air time, Kev. You'd never miss it!"
No winner for "Outthink the Fink." The answers were Susan St. James, Elvira, and Cathy Lee Crosby.
They finish with that new Hulk Hogan vignette that just seems to go on and on and on...
See you next week.