HHH ISN'T THE ONLY ONE COMING BACK...
Your eyes are not deceiving you. It's Michaelangelo, and I have decided to return from the dead to pick up the weekly review of Wrestling's Monday night offering. For those of you who don't remember me from way back when, let me give you a brief description of what this column was, what it is, what it will be, and what it hopes to achieve.
The Good, Bad, and Ugly is a concept that debuted waaay back on August 4, 1999, just after CRZ.net first appeared on the Internet's radar. The column was a way for me to get my opinions on Monday Nitro and RAW IS WAR down on electronic paper and posted for the reading pleasure (and displeasure) of anyone willing to read through it.
As Nitro and RAW grew more and more stale my interest in pumping out an Internet column waned, and so did the quality of my writing. One day, roughly a year and a half later, I retired with little fanfare and no regrets. I'd said what I wanted to say and I felt the time had come to step back and let other people say it for a while.
Guess what! I am back! The official return of the GB&U will cover the first RAW of 2002, the much awaited January 7th show. This column is designed to kind of bring you and me up to date on what I missed since I left, to introduce myself to the people who have never read my stuff in the past, and to remind my old fans why they were my old fans.
Now, I have not stopped watching wrestling, just stopped writing about it, and I think that with the coming of the new year, it's a good time for me to come on back and see if my opinion gets you guys as riled up as it used to back in the day. This column is designed for those with a short attention span. Be warned it is NOT a recap. CRZ does that duty far better there than I ever could. This column is a moment-by-moment editorial of WWF RAW as I pull slices of time and give my take on how they made me feel.
It's rather fun...if you haven't seen one of my columns before, I encourage you to give them a try.
Well, a lot has changed. Much as I predicted, WCW went the way of the dodo. Vince McMahon, the consummate vulture, scooped up the remains of the once mighty company for a mere song and went on to job out the best of WCW to the worst of the WWF.
ECW also faded away amidst heavy debts and the loss of any kind of decent TV contract. Paul Heyman jumped the sinking ship and took a gig commentating RAW in place of the departing Jerry Lawler (don't get me started there, kids), while the bulk of his top names managed to make the move with him to the WWF and, with the exception of RVD, also get jobbed out routinely to guys like X-Pac and Scotty Too Hotty.
In terms of the storyline, the Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley-owned ECW and Shane McMahon-owned WCW joined forces under the leadership of the heel Stone Cold Steve Austin who made the turn, at the surprise of nobody, at the end of the Invasion PPV. Now the Alliance (as it came to be called) desperately tried to establish itself as a viable threat to WWF by repeatedly beating up its top stars on television only to lose crucial matches at the Pay Per Views.
If I may editorialize a bit here. Vince needed to shit or get off the pot. he should have either given the Alliance a definitive month end victory, or disbanded them and absorbed the top talents and let the rest go. (Seeya later Tommy Dreamer.) Instead he is now credited for turning a no-lose angle into a horrible train wreck that ended, thankfully, when the WWF team came out on top at Survivor Series.
Chris Jericho came into his own at that same PPV when he captured the Undisputed Championship by defeating both Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock in consecutive clean (though interference-laden) wins. For some reason, he still carries both the WWF and WCW titles although the tournament was supposed to unify the titles. I suppose if you waited as long as he did for those belts as he did, you'd make sure everyone knew you hang onto both of them as well.
Following Survivor Series, the WWF wised up and brought in Ric Flair to take his place as Vince's newest and bestest foe. Flair, claiming to have bought all of Shane and Stephanie's stock (which is was evidently how they got the money to purchase WCW and ECW), put one over on Mr. McMahon on November 19th by announcing that as owner of half of WWF, he was now Vince's partner. A mark out moment to be sure and once again, we all get our hopes up.
While all this was going on, two of the top workers on the roster were the recipients of injuries which shelved them long term. HHH is due to return on January 7th from a major tear in one of his leg muscles and Chris Benoit (the greatest wrestler of all time) will be back sometime next year from neck surgery.
The WWF also threw its hat into the "Reality Television" arena with Tough Enough. Oddly, though I hate Survivor and all its clones, I liked this show. I think mainly this is due to the fact that there was no "voting off" of cast members and that there was less focus on the relationships of the contestants and more emphasis placed on their in-ring training. I loved the concept and I do think it gave its viewers a healthy respect for Sports Entertainment.
That having been said, I think the careers of Nidia and Mavin, the winners of the first Tough Enough competition, are severely in question. Yes, they have one year developmental contracts with the WWF. Yes, they are guaranteed a year with the company. I don't recall hearing that meant they would be getting title shots on RAW or Smackdown. Likely they will spend the bulk of their year in OVW or other "minor league" federations.
Personally, I think Mavin has no chance in hell of getting over as a wrestler on television. Honestly, can you see HHH allowing a guy like that to get any sort of push. We're talking about the king of locker room politics here. RVD and Jericho are counting the days to Helmsley's return because that will mark the end of both their pushes right there...and they are both over wrestler with huge workrates. The only offense Mavin has even remotely mastered is a dropkick. He's dead in the water and will be lucky to be Billy Gunn's bitch on Heat in 6 months.
Now Nidia may have a shot, if only because she's dealing with a much smaller pool of talent competition. She already has a better workrate than Stacy Keibler and is sporting much bigger boobs. I think the big money feud with her is not with any of the existing women wrestlers, but with the person she beat out to get the contract -- Taylor. I say give Nidia 6 months and a little push and then have Taylor run in from the crowd and punk her out. Hell, I'd watch it, that's real drama ripped from the headlines!
I guess it doesn't matter because we haven't seen much of either Tough Enough winner since they debuted in the WWF. Mavin wrestled (and lost to) Tazz about four times (and Booker T once) and Nidia wandered around the ring once or twice. Seems they are both in development territories until they learn how to properly deliver a snap mare without severing someone's spinal column.
So that's where we are now. Rumors floating around have been centering on the possibility that the Outsiders (Kevin Nash and Scott Hall) will show up sometime soon on RAW. Some have even hinted on Hogan joining them and reforming the NWO. I can't say I would be totally opposed to that as long as their egos are held in check. I'd like to think Vince McMahon is smart enough to know the risks of hiring two egoes and an on again, off again alcoholic...but hey, who am I to assume?
Anyway, I will be back a week from Monday and am excited to be bringing my skewed and incredibly biased opinion to you all again. Have a safe and happy new year and I will see you in a week's time.
Questions, comments, large metal robots? Write me at firstname.lastname@example.org. All letters will be answered or fired into space.
I am Michaelangelo and will be for a while.Michaelangelo
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