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Tom Dean




I left off last week speculating that the nWo wouldn't be a big hit in the WWF, and that the WWF fans would demand their old hero the Hulkster back. Well... that's not true. Actually, I left off last week speculating that Jericho would break up the renewal of the Helmsley wedding vows. But that was totally wrong, so we won't even mention that. I looked a lot better talking about Hogan, as Monday's RAW crowd seemed to love Ol' Wrinklehead almost as much as the Rock. That is, until he, Hall, and Nash started beating the living snot out of Rocky. One would expect that would take care of the "Hogan gets cheers" problem. Personally, I thought the ambulance segment was over-the-top. I have no trouble with excessive automotive mayhem. But keep it on the cartoon side... like all other wrestling violence. Don't start getting into "I'm sure his parents are worried sick right now" or "he may never walk again" or whatever. It's just stupid. That said, if the segment was effective in establishing Hogan as a heel, then its main goal was accomplished.

There's no doubt that Rock-Hogan is a marquee matchup. But, the WWF has to keep in mind what made Monday's confrontation work so well. It wasn't just the names Rock and Hogan, and it sure as hell wasn't the nWo. It was the characterization that was established. Rock looked up to Hogan as a kid. Rock feels that Hogan sold himself out. Hogan sees himself as wrestling's biggest star ever. Hogan wants to keep the Rock from reaching that level. These are all things that will need to be emphasized, and re-emphasized, over the next month. It can't just be "nWo cheat bad destroy". Losing the heels' motivation would bring us back to the bad days of the Alliance.

So if it's Rock-Hogan, whatchu gonna do with the other two nWo guys at Wrestlemania? Supposedly, the brass wants Austin-Hall. Supposedly, Austin doesn't. Supposedly, I don't blame him. There isn't a lot of suspense there as to the victor... anyone give Hall ANY shot to win that one? And there's a good probability that Hall will stink up the joint. I think you need to tag Hall and Nash together. Against who? Good question. Austin and somebody, presumably. Somebody is probably not Jericho. Somebody is probably HHH, or Angle... and probably, the other one is fighting Jericho for the titles. I think there is a lot to be said for Austin-HHH vs. Nash-Hall. Then you've got both faces in the tag team. And, since Jericho would be face against Angle, you avoid the Wrestlemania X-7 problem where your main event heel is a hometown guy. The objection, of course, would be that Jericho just turned heel pretty recently, and has been terrific in the role. I totally agree with that... but you don't have to turn him permanently, though! Just have him start being a bitch again as soon as they get out of Canada. I think that works best. I don't expect that, though. I expect HHH to beat Jericho for the unified titles.

I guess chances are that Nash & Hall lose to whoever... and Rock loses... yet again. Oh well. At least if the promotion splits immediately afterwards, no one's gonna remember who won what. Which is another thing they need to figure out... how the heck does all this nWo stuff lead to a split? I can't imagine how they can put such stipulations on the Wrestlemania matches, without re-living the Alliance... which is something they seem to be avoiding very deliberately. That'll be a very interesting thing to watch in the next month, how they use the nWo to set up the split.

Talk about your big name cards... chances are that you've got a match for the Unified Championship, two (or three) matches involving the nWo, AND something's going on with Undertaker and Flair too. Personally, I don't want to see that match straight up. Taker said that he would try to "convince" Flair to take him on. I would love it if they really ran with that idea, and had Taker devote his days to making Flair's life miserable, WITHOUT the end result being a Taker-Flair match. To me, that would make Taker a far creepier heel than if he just beat the hell out of Flair. Taker, being Taker, does have to fight SOMEONE at Wrestlemania. So if it's not gonna be Flair, Flair will need a stand-in to take up his cause in the ring. There are lots of ways you can go with that. (My favorite: Turn Booker face.)

I'll tell you this, I definitely care more about the nWo now than I did Monday afternoon. So as far as I'm concerned, we're already moving in a good direction.

Tom Dean
from Wienerville: T.R.
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