Marc "the Shark" Wyman
TIME TO FEED THE SHARK
Shuffling the cards
So, No Mercy is in the books, and The Rock lost his valued WCW title. But, let's not forget that all the autograph pictures show him with a strap - and voilą, at the following RAW he's been refitted with a new belt, and it's actually a WWF title. All right, he's got to share it with Chris "Dedicated to Eric Bischoff" Jericho. (For those who didn't notice, Jericho officially dedicated his championship to Eric Bischoff in an interview on wcw.com, noting nicely that in his three years in WCW, Bischoff never saw him fit to have a title shot. Isn't it sweet that Jericho remembers Easy-E? Could it be that the lionheart's got a sting?)
Which brings me to the realization that my prophetic powers are not quite what I believed them to be. Recently I've said that Jericho wouldn't get a push, and that he'd vanish back into the midcard before long. Instead he's now got two belts. Do I look like a fool, or do I look like a sucker, sucker?
It looks like there are a couple of changes afoot in the WWF, and Vince "Mister" McMahon (better known to WCW fans as "Satan") is also back to add his personal brand of mischief to the whole affair. But what I'm wondering about mostly is whether there will be any grand schemes developing, feuds and programs that can truly attract viewers - after the PPV numbers have been down for a while, and there had even been tickets unsold for No Mercy.
What's wrong here? Why don't people care as much about the WWF matches anymore?
Well, one answer is that up to No Mercy you could predict the outcome of every match. And, to be honest, the upset of Jericho's win doesn't really change that. Booker "Don't call me Mister" T vs "Selling moves? What's that?" Undertaker? Duuuuuhhhhhh. Like the UT can lose a match! Dead Man, Inc. jobbing? Why, that would be. that would. uhhh. Wouldn't that help the entire fed? Oh, but UT is invincible!
When Vinnie Mac turned up at SMACKDOWN!, I thought this was a sign for things taking a turn for the better, for something big happening. Perhaps a faceturn of Rob "Gets pushed as if he were a McMahon" van Dam? Perhaps that something earthshattering was about to occur, that would change the face of sports entertainment as we know it. (Ouch, look at this, now I'm spouting hype as if I were Michael "Jacket dropper" Cole!)
All right, Jericho's got two belts. And he's finally become a world champion, like the smarks have been clamoring for for years. Does he deserve it? Oh, well, I think he does know which end of the mic to speak into. That is a major qualification in my book, and since the current batch of main eventers isn't as big as they used to be, Jericho surely can work great matches with them. It's not like he'd be wrestling Big "The Giant" Show (the words "great match" and "Big Show" just don't belong in the same sentence).
The question is whether that is enough to get viewers to shell out their money for the PPVs. Now that Jericho has the WCW strap (the newly established stepping stone to the WWF World Austin Is Champion Title), we can expect him to haunt the main event for a little while to come. At the Survivor Series, he might already be going after Stone Cold "Wind beneath our Ring" Steve Austin. Belt vs belt, the great unifying match. The biggest threat to Austin's championship reign since. uh. since. now don't help me, I'll remember, surely I will.
Yeah, like Jericho'll get that far. I expect him to get bogged down in a feud with Rocky, during which he's likely to lose that precious strap of his again. (Memories of Kurt "Hell, yeah, it's van Dam true" Angle's short reign might be appropriate.)
Granted, I've just been wrong about Jericho last Sunday, so I'll just accept that "anything's possible in the WWF."
Vince is shuffling his cards again. He's turned up one ace, but what about the rest?
Admittedly, I'm quite worried about the Bookerman. Now call me a silly fan of WCW's latter days, but I like the "True People's Champion" a heck of a lot. He's got tons of charisma, and by now he's fully settled into his heel routine. So much so that I almost don't want him to turn face again. (No, I said "almost". I'm not that far gone.) There can be no doubt in my mind that he's now a WWF main eventer, even though there hadn't been a top level spot for him at No Mercy.
The big problem is that he hasn't won a match fair and square since. uh. since winning the WCW title from Scotty "Are you finally healthy again?" Steiner?!?!?! Let's face it, that doesn't exactly make Booker a threat. All he's got going for him is his bluster and the most electrifyingly ineffective move since the People's Elbow. Oh, yeah, right, also his comedy routines with his more or less brother, Shanie Ray McMahon. (Can I dig that? Right on, sucker!) That isn't nearly enough, though. Booker desperately needs heat, a victory that isn't a cheat, something that makes him a credible threat once more.
It isn't time yet to unwrap one of his precious catchphrases, "Don't hate the player, hate the game". Yeah, I'm secretly hoping that will happen once Triple-H returns. That could be a great and funny program, but The Game won't be back quite so soon, and Booker needs to make a mark long before that.
Then there's Diamond Dallas "I'll make you like you" Page whose new gimmick seems to actually work. Although I thought the Stalker gimmick could have worked for a while longer, booking DDP to get beaten up by the Taker doomed all the heat the gimmick might have gotten. (Hmm, does UT have a streak of dooming blossoming careers, or does he?) Now his "Bob Patterson" copy, along with creepily self-confident smile, is pointing his way back up. Up to the top? At this point I'm not sure. Already "Baby Brother of Destruction" Kane has demolished DDP, in his very first appearance in the ring, no less. Now one squash alone doesn't take the heat out of a gimmick, I know, but it's not necessarily the best start, either (okay, it was funny).
Hope springs eternal, though, and perhaps in his next outings, DDP will actually be granted something that only two members of the Alliance (RVD and Austin) have really enjoyed: victories. Trust me, that wouldn't be a bad thing, it would be a good thing! It's about time somebody got to. feel. the. BANG!
The cards are being shuffled again. Which way are they going to fall? Only Vince knows. At least I hope he knows. Sometimes a man could start to harbor doubts.
But, all right, let's say that Booker and DDP are surprisingly well booked, and that Jericho is allowed to run with the ball. Will that be enough to get the WWF ratings and the PPV buyrates back up?
No, probably not. Not as much as Vince would like, anyway.
But it could be a start.
As low as we've gotten by now, that is all that I ask for.
Until everybody realizes that Mick Foley is God - and that he works for Satan,
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