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Tom Dean




SHOCKING DEVELOPMENT OF THE WEEK: From Rumor has it just laid off another 28 and is down to 40 employees from a high of over 200. Who could POSSIBLY, POSSIBLY have seen this coming?? I would have thought that it was a BRILLIANT idea to buy ad time on highly rated national programming for a product that only a few thousand people could possibly want! I am mortified by this development, and quite frankly, I think it can only mean that THE TERRORISTS HAVE WON.

Well, after taking a couple of months off, I am now once again a [slash] Superstar. And no, my sabbatical was not due to extended shock after my main man Chris Jericho won the Undisputed Championship (an event I can honestly say I thought had zero chance to happen). Nope, it was Real Life Stuff that kept me away. But, I taped the shows every week, and over the last few days, I caught myself up. (It's amazing how quickly the shows go when you skip over the commercials, plugs, and replays.)

It was actually a really interesting experience. I can't say that everything I saw was a shock to me, because I did hear about the nWo (which I think we were all expecting anyway), and I did hear that HHH won the Rumble (which I KNOW we were all expecting anyway). But a lot of things were pleasant surprises. I definitely marked, for instance, to see the Royal Rumble returnees. However, ignorance is not all that some people would make it out to be. The reason for that is because so many of the "surprises" they try to hype are so pitiful. Am I really supposed to believe that Flair is gonna retire a couple of weeks after he comes back? All in all, having a better idea of the tradeoffs involved, I'd still rather be a SMARKY SMARK SMARK.

I did realize, though, that it wasn't necessary to dig through as many wrestling websites as I used to. I now have a much smaller list of bookmarks to hit every day. I won't name names, but I'll characterize them as "the sites that don't make me want to throw a brick through my monitor." You'd be surprised how many sites are ruled out by that simple criteria. (Or maybe you wouldn't.) I also decided to stop reading show spoilers. Sure, I'll still know that so-and-so signed and is set to debut or whatever... I don't want to give up that stuff. But I think I'll enjoy my viewing more without the very specific individual show spoilers.

So, nWo, huh? Let me be real original and talk about that. First of all, I'm glad that Vince hasn't booked himself to make Flair look ridiculous... that was something that concerned me, after everyone else connected with WCW got buried. A strong heel Vince, and a strong face Flair, will definitely help the nWo out. That said... I dunno. I think it might be too late to lure the old WCW fans back into the fold. Anyway, these are three guys that the true WCW fan associates with the WWF... it's nothing like a Flair or a Sting, in terms of bringing the disgruntled WCW folks on board. As for the existing WWF fans, I think they want to see Hulk Hogan. Actually, I think that's something they want a LOT, and it could produce some very big paydays. But I don't think they want to see Hollywood Hogan, and I don't think they care about Nash and Hall. We'll see, but, I am not foreseeing a big hit here, and I am predicting a quick Hogan face turn.

It's a shame, really, because I'm sure this whole thing was put together when the ratings were dismal and Vince was desperate. But now, with Austin's face turn, HHH's return, and Jericho doing such a fantastic job at the top level... I feel like the product is going really well right now, and is in absolutely no need of an nWo disruption. Oh well.

Watching all those programs also made me appreciate Kurt Angle even more. The way he worked the "What?" into his routine was just classic. It's damn difficult both to be entertaining and to get the crowd to find new ways to hate you... Angle is the master. And his schtick on the most recent Smackdown had me in stitches. "I AM THE BABY GAME!" I would go around saying that to people, except they wouldn't know what the hell I was talking about.

What else did I see develop over these shows... oh, Billy and Chuck. I think they're handling this well. The fact that they're so oblivious -- that in fact, they believe themselves to be macho guys -- is what's preventing it from being offensive, I think. Not that I enjoy seeing the two of them wrestle... oh, hell no. But, I can see why they keep Billy around. He really seems to be willing to do whatever they ask him to do. Not everyone would be willing to play this role at all, but he seems to be giving it 100%. (Chuck seems much less enthused.) Not a GOOD reason to keep him around, mind you. But, it is a reason.

Billy and Chucky's relationship of course makes me want to segue to Goldust. Love it... love the promos... love the edge that he provides. Again, I think they are walking the fine line with his character very well. I think feuding him with RVD makes a lot of sense. If they feuded Goldust with Edge, for example (which was my personal theory), Edge would probably have made him look like a clown in promos and ruined the mystique. RVD won't do that. But... whatever happened to Mr. Perfect? That's another thing you notice when you watch a bunch of shows in a row... how often plots, and characters, just disappear with absolutely zero explanation. Like that show when Kane and Big Show ran in on the main event. What the hell was that about? To set up Kane vs. Show as a midcard match on the next program? I dunno. I guess it's always been like that... and it's always annoyed me. They are getting a little better about it, though.

Well, on to the much (over-)hyped renewal of vows on Monday. I think it's gotta be HHH-Jericho at Wrestlemania, which means I've got Jericho in the "break up the festivities" pool. Let's see!

Tom Dean
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