SHORT VERSION: Steve Austin broke my heart.

If you haven't read Jake's /Tuesday piece already, I'll refer you over there for what would probably be a better writeup of the situation than I can do on a self-imposed deadline, in my still sadly emotional state - and by "emotional state," I mean "still ACTUALLY trying to find a way to use causal relationships to make this whole entire ugly business the fault of the damned writers, despite the fact that it can only end with lots of people accusing me of being a fool."

Still, a few quick hits for now and maybe I'll go into more detail when I feel I'm better equipped to put into words how I feel.

What could they POSSIBLY have been arguing about to escalate things to the point where....yeah, it's probably none of my business. Sigh.

Before I was forced to come to the realisation that even if they WANTED Austin back, they couldn't touch him now that he's (at least long-term, if temporarily) radioactive, I was ready to actually put money in Vince's pocket just so I could go to this show and chant "We want Austin" for two hours until my voice gave out. But if enough people HAD done it, would it have fallen on deaf ears? They seemed so deadset against even the POSSIBILITY that Austin was RIGHT. And hell, who's gonna listen to him NOW? It just....boggles...

The second worst thing about this whole situation is people suddenly feel entitled to heap bile, vindictiveness, mean-spiritedness, and eighteen other kinds of negative energy towards a guy who most of those same people liked not too long ago - and who, on some levels, I STILL like very much. But the "cool" thing to do is to fall into line and join the "who can beat Steve Austin down" crowd - who can say FIRST and BEST how much they hate Austin, they've ALWAYS hated Austin, they KNEW Austin was no good and unworthy of fandom, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. It becomes a *competition* to see who can be most eloquent about describing the particular KIND of scum that Austin is to the world. And it makes me sick, because I'm talking about BEFORE Saturday. As soon as the man's off TV, people can't turn fast enough. "He sucked!" Hey, fuck you. He was AWESOME. Try to remember that and shut the hell up.

Guys who beat up their wives, on the other hand, can go to hell. DUH.

I realise it's now a practical impossibility for practically everyone to make the logical separation, but I hope later you'll at least THINK about it, and realise that "he hit his wife, therefore he's always sucked in the ring and I'm glad he's off my television and out of the WWE" makes no sense.

Along the same lines, I hold a fervent hope that people *don't* use what happened as a shield to attempt to blind themselves from the fact that, hey, the writing HAS been REALLY stinky for a REALLY long time. The problem didn't go away because the one guy who stood up and actually WALKED AWAY from it suddenly turned into a nutjob. God, that hurts to type. Hell, this probably hurts for you to read because I'm coming across as so embarrassing. We're all embarrassed. Let's just move on. I'll do better next week.

TNA: Snap! I *believe* I will make my pay-per-view recap debut with Wednesday's show - and a good BAD show might be *just* the thing to snap me out of my WWE-induced funk. God knows I have no reason to expect this thing to actually be GOOD, but you know what they say - with lowered expectations come risen....ummm....well. Come back to this site Thursday morning for that!

QUICK QUOTE: WWF 14.44 (+ .44, last year: 12.45, two years ago: 17 9/16) Also, XOXO 0.03 and they finally filed Chapter 11 - as if I didn't have enough going on with Steve Austin breaking my heart, ohhh let's move on

FLASHBACK: Fro pointed this out over on the message board, and I'm lifting it from him, since it starts by lifting part of my own RAW report from only three weeks ago:

Coach is bored! But wait...maybe that's...no, it's only Raven. He decides to ask him if he knows anything about Debra's family problems and how they've kept Austin from arriving. "It wasn't Debra's family that had the emergency - it was Stone Cold Steve Austin's - in fact, it was Austin himself. Austin can conceal his pain no longer, because from my vantage point, no matter how cleverly he may sneak upon a mirror, his reflection is always right there to stare back at him. And do you know what he sees? He sees a troubled, tortured, tormented soul. I wish I could help him, Coach. But this is his destiny...and I feel his pain. Quote the Raven...nevermore." Of course, nobody mentions him quitting on Heat last night - GOOD OL' JR instead opts to mention that he's sitting in front of a "No Smoking" sign. "How i--how prophetic."


WWE MANTRA WATCH: They can't seem to say "Austin" without immediately appending "walked out."

TONIGHT: Two King of the Ring Quarterfinals! Booker T. takes on Brock Lesnar in one! Also tonight, "the REAL story" about Stone Cold Steve Austin and why he left the WWE - come back in seventeen where I'll say "arrrrrrrgh"


TV-14-DLV - CC - Attitude - Entertainment - WW!

Let Us Take You Back to Last Week Where Shawn Michaels Made Noise and (literally!) Kicked Booker T out of the NWO

(Austin-free) Opening Credits - they refuse to see the change in me, why won't they wake up

PREOCCUPYRO! LIVE from the Arena in Oakland, CA 17.6.2 and transmitido en espanol SAP on The New TNN and Canada's TSN, this is RAW! King of the Ring is Sunday, and speaking of which...

TONIGHT: Booker T vs. Brock Lesnar in a KOR Quarterfinal!

TONIGHT: Rob van Dam vs. X-Pac in the other RAW KOR Quarterfinal!

TONIGHT: From Confidential, "the real story" of Stone Cold Steve Austin - oh boy

THE WORLD: has people in it - hey, that's profound

KING OF THE RING QUARTERFINAL MATCH: ROB VAN DAM (intercontinental champion - Battle Creek, Michigan - 235 pounds) v. X-PAC (Minneapolis, Minnesota - 225 pounds - NWO member)
Hey, remember when they'd show you highlights of the qualifiers so you'd know how these people made it this far in the tournament? I wish they'd still do that and at least attempt to make advancing in this tournament seem like a bigger deal. I mean, I can't even REMEMBER who these guys defeated to get HERE, which is really kind of sad (for me, or in general, I can't say). Of course, the answer to that is "Eddie Guerrero and Goldust, are you nuts? I think this Austin thing has *really* gotten to you." Here we go - feeling out process - dueling roundhouse kicks that only get air - lockup - armdrag by X-Pac - and he's pretty proud of himself. Lockup, side headlock by X-Pac, grinding it in, chain wrestling to the hammerlock, takedown, floating over, slapping the back and posing again. We go again. Arm wringer by 'Pac - reversed by van Dam - kick, kick, kick, jumping back kick. Elbow, elbow, elbow, eyepoke by 'Pac to turn it around - whip out is reversed, van Dam drops down, 'Pac up and over, monkey flip by van Dam - and a running clothesline to take him to the floor. van Dam to the apron - moonsault to the floor! Ross calls it an "Asai" moonsault, causing Lawler to make "Asahi" jokes the rest of the match - and dammit, van Dam didn't even USE the ropes...so was it REALLY an Asai moonsault? Either I or Jim Ross is cursed with just enough knowledge to be dangerous. Snickers Cruncher provides the replay. van Dam back in - baseball slide dropkick out. X-Pac hung out to dry on the barricade. van Dam on the apron - HE POINTED TO HIMSELF!!! There's a legdrop across X-Pac's back. Back into the ring - I think he wanted to point to himself again but doesn't. 'Pac on the apron - shoulder through the ropes, again, slingshot but no water in the pool and he lands flat on his back - van Dam with a backflip press...but only gets 2. Stomp by van Dam - arm wringer, 'Pac with two rights - van Dam puts him into the ropes, wants a head scissors but 'Pac counters into a powerbomb. Spinning heel kick by X-Pac - 1, 2, no. Snapmares him over and grabs a neck vice. van Dam to his feet - elbowing out - off the ropes - but X-Pac steps aside and puts him on the floor. He's gonna fly - somersaults over the top rope and connects! Everybody back in - X-Pac with a chop - kick, kick, stomp, standing on the neck for 4, going into the skip - and there's the broncobuster - but van Dam's out of the way and 'Pac crotches himself! van Dam clotheslines him down. 'Pac's kick is caught - van Dam with the stepover heel kick. Scooped up - X-Pac behind the back - tries the X Factor but van Dam does the splits and counters with a jawbreaker. Off the ropes with Rolling Thunder - 1, 2, no! van Dam in control - stomp - into the corner reversed but van Dam gets the boot up - van Dam vaults to the top rope but 'Pac is up quick - dropkick takes him all the way to the floor! Robinson goes outside to check on him - ohhhh and now BOOKER TIO hits the ring, gives X-Pac the (I Can't Believe They Actually Called It The) Book End, and hightails it out. van Dam climbs to the top - Fivestar frog splash - 1, 2, 3! and van Dam moves on. (6:00) Here's a replay of the Book End - and the Fivestar.

Quick check of the brackets - van Dam will take on the winner of the Big Valbowski/Chris Jericho matchup Thursday on SmackDown!

Except from Jim Ross' "Confidential" interview - highlight: "I love my job"

UP NEXT: the REAL story

"WrestleMania X8" for GameCube ad - wow, lookit Austin smackdab in the middle of the box there

Catch the SmackDown! crew tomorrow in Sacramento, Saturday in Huntington, Sunday in Columbus for King of the Ring, Monday in Moline and Tuesday in Chicago!

Backstage, the NWO has grouped to hear X-Pac's beef. He wants Booker T NOW, but Michaels tries to calm him down. Nash tells him he's got a plan...

Here comes BILLIONAIRE VINCE - well this oughta be....something. "Ever since last Monday night, the question that seemed to be on everyone's mind is: is Stone Cold Steve Austin really gone? Sadly - sadly, the answer to that question is yes. I know, I don't like it any more than you do. The other question on everyone's mind is: one day, will Stone Cold Steve Austin be back in action in World Wrestling Entertainment? I sincerely hope so. And quite frankly, I really don't have the answer to that question and I'll tell you why. You see, Austin has a lot of explaning and a lot of apologising to do before he comes back. Austin...when he walked out last Monday, it wasn't the first time that he walked out on us. It happened once before, the day after WrestleMania, when Austin packed his back, without notifying anyone, he simply packed his back and went home. He was scheduled to be on RAW, just as he was scheduled last Monday - Austin stayed home for approximately two weeks, claiming he was 'burned out.' All right, we can understand being burned out; we have all been burned out from time to time, and given the enormous contributions that Austin made and has made to our company, all was forgiven - two weeks later Austin came back to work." Long pause as Vince clears his throat. "Nonetheless, in my mind, Austin owes an apology for walkin' out to every superstar in that locker room. Austin owes an apology to the company he helped build. Austin owes an apology to each and every one of you for walking out on you. I don't know if Austin's ever gonna come back to action - or not." "Austin" chant. "Last Monday, Austin was in town, he was scheduled to be on RAW as I said, any number of us attempted to speak to him on his cel phone, he refused to take our calls until finally, after repeated attempts, Austin took one call - that was from that man right there. Austin's friend, Jim Ross. JR pleaded with Austin, 'since you're in town, don't walk, simply just come to the arena, sit down and discuss your grievances as a man.' Austin didn't do that - JR's plea fell on deaf ears. And quite frankly (2), Austin's actions, both personally and professionally are certainly uncharacteristic of the man we all know. Nonetheless, Austin, as an adult, should and will be held accountable. We have to move on as a company without Austin. And move on we will - we have to; we have no alternative. We'll develop new stars, new matches, new concepts; even this Sunday's King of the Ring winner will automatically face the champion at SummerSlam. Austin is gone, but clearly Stone Cold will never, ever be forgotten. I know that in Austin's heart, he wishes every superstar in the locker room well, he wishes all of you well, and I know Austin even wishes even the company that he helped build well. So Steve, tonight, wherever you are...I'd like to say on behalf of all the superstars, some of whom are riding your coattails for the trailblazes you made - I'd like to say, Steve, to you, on behalf of the company that you helped build - on behalf, Steve, of every single fan that you entertained throught the years all over the world ..." I swear to God, if he says YOU'RE FIRED, I quit here and now. "On behalf of all of us, Steve, I would simply like to say....thank you. Thank you, Stone Cold - thank you for the memories." He hands the mic back to LILIAN GARCIA - and then is handed a beer...back to the middle of the ring - there's a toast - Vince takes a swig...and then leaves the can in the centre of the ring. Camera zooms in on the Budweiser...will somebody enter the frame and pick it up? No....we just fade to black.

That's all well and good, but where's my apology from Vince for the crappy writing? If *Austin* owes me one, aren't I at least ALSO owed one for THAT?

You know, the fact that they don't bring up the events of last weekend points to two things: 1) they don't want the WWE associated with it, 2) they don't want the blissfully ignorant fans to become less blissfully ignorant...in a glimmer of hope that some way, somehow, way down the road, they could bring him back and pretend it never happened? (You're in denial.) Yeah well, piss off. I like denial a lot more than thinking "no more Austin" over and over.

And now, the WWE Slam of the Week, brought to you by "Eight Legged Freaks!" From last week, the Hardyz strike against the Undertaker.

JEFF HARDY (Cameron, North Carolina - 218 pounds - with RAW is brought to you by "WrestleMania X8," "Eight Legged Freaks," and Greyhound!) v. RAVEN (The Bowery - 239 pounds - with Let Us Take You Back to Heat)
referee: CHAD PATTON
Sorry Robert, no hankies this week. Lots of body paint, though. Or maybe that's THE JAUNDICE. Last night on Heat, Jeff was disqualified, so they're gonna try again tonight. I guess. It takes all of two seconds for THE AWESOME UNDERTAKER to walk out and make his presence known. (Later tonight, he takes on Matt Hardy in a nontitle match.) Raven with a slap in the face. Hardy slaps back. Raven slap, Hardy slap, Raven bowls him over, right, right, into the ropes, Hardy with a flying head scissors. Axehandle off the ropes, clothesline out of the ring. SQUEEEEEEEAL SQUEEEEAL SQUEEEEEEAL Barricade run clothesline. Back in the ring - Hardy gives Taker a long look - allowing Raven to sidestep the charge and shove him outside the ring under the ropes. Raven out after him - side Russian legsweep into the barricade. Back in the ring where Raven opens every orifice he can grab. SQUEEEEEEEEAL Raven sits on top with a knee in Hardy's back - riding him down to the canvas. 1, 2, nope. Into the opposite corner, Hardy hits hard and Raven lands a clothesline off the ropes. Running kneelift. 1, 2, Hardy kicks out. Hardy manages a sitout jawbreaker to turn it around. Raven catches the first kick but has no defense for the mule kick. Into the ropes, dropkick by Hardy, clothesline, into the ropes, reversed, nobody home on Raven's dropkick, Hardy with the "speaking in tongues" double legdrop for 2. Raven out of the corner, Hardy jumps to the second rope - head scissors - pulling him into snake eyes on his way down. Hardy up top - Raven crotches him. Up after him - Hardy fighting him off - right, right, front face and throws him off the turnbuckle - swantonbomb! 1, 2, 3! SQUEEEEEEEEEAL (3:49) Taker points to his eyes.

King of the Ring spot - Taker/HHH hyped

So why does "Hey Arnold!" have such a funny lookin' head?

Backstage, Booker T celebrates his run-in - and is met by Goldust, dressed up as...well, I have no idea. Fu Manchu facial hair, but Elton John's wig, purple cape and walking stick...and golden wooden buck teeth. "I say, old chap, bloody good show, guvnah, bloody good show." "Man what the hell you supposed to be now?" "Well, I'm the Duke of Gold of course. Ready to serve in your royal court. Would you like a spot of porridge?" "No, I don't want no porridge, man." "Why." "Look, I'm down with the King of the Ring and all that - gettin' that title shot at SummerSlam - but I ain't won jack yet." "Perhaps. But I seem to have a good track record at predictions...lest you remember my warning on Shawn Michaels last week." "Shawn Michaels, huh." "Mmm-hmm!" "See, that sucka, he thought I was gonna upstage the NWO - well guess what, he's right! See, my star shines brighter than ALL them suckas put together! Now can u dig THAT?" "Indeed, Booker. But let's not get all sticky wicket here - there's still the matter of tonight, and the NWO wanting, desiring to get revenge from your earlier antics." "Look man, I did what I had to do - you dig?" "I dig - I dig, indeed, yes I do, very much so. But dig this, Booker. If the NWO gets involved, that would mean Brock Lesnar would be DQ'd - and you would take one step closer to becoming... King Booker." "King Booker, huh. King Booker - Gimme that, dawg. King Booker, huh. I like the sound of that. You know what - as my first royal act, I hereby decree Brock Lesnar's gonna get his ass whooped all over the place, by the five-time WCW Champion, now can thou diggest that, suckaa?" "Indeed I do, Booker, yeah." T reacts. "What the hell - you need some toothpaste."

JONATHAN COACHMAN manages an effortless (ha) segue, then sneaks up on Molly Holly, who's busy mastering her thighs in the gym. She tosses the apparatus away once spotted. "Yeah, I know what Trish said, okay? And yeah, I was offended. But maybe I offended her by beating her in the ring last week. Just like I'm gonna beat her tonight - and just like I'm gonna beat Trish this Sunday at King of the Ring, to be the new WWE Women's Champion." "Well, if indeed you do become the next Women's Champion, then maybe you won't be the BUTT of any more jokes." Coach yuks it up until Molly hauls off and slaps him one. Well, it's a start...

Show reacts with laughter...whoa, somebody WATCHES this show? Wait, wouldn't Show be seeing HIMSELF right now? X-Pac comes in and turns off the TV. Nash and Michaels collect 'Pac and just before they huddle to discuss Nash's plan, there's an AHEM at the door. "Gentlemen, good evening. Brock Lesnar and I, first of all, wanna let you know that we are both very sorry about what happened with X-Pac this evening. We also want you to know, it had nothing to do with Brock Lesnar. Now it's not gonna benefit any of us, or our needs, or our goals if the same thing that happened to X-Pac happened to The Next Big Thing Brock Lesnar. Now I'm sure the four of you heard what Vince McMahon had to say. The winner of the King of the Ring moves on to SummerSlam and gets a shot at the Undisputed title - and gentlemen, I assure you, the next Undisputed champion in the WWE is The Next Big Thing Brock Lesnar. So PLEASE, govern your actions accordingly, and stay out of Brock Lesnar's match tonight. Okay?" X-Pac: "Kinda sounds like a threat, Heyman. Is that what I'm hearing?" "Okay. I *asked* you nicely - now I'm TELLING you to stay out of Brock Lesnar's match." Michaels: "YOU. Are telling us. *Really.*" Lesnar stands in front of Heyman and stares. Nash stands in front of *Michaels* and stares. Camera pulls back to show all four men staring down Lesnar. Heyman decides to back his man off - Michaels does a wave.

Why doesn't Heyman call him "Mr. McMahon" up there? Probably just a Freudian slip...

And now, the WWE Rewind - brought to you by "WrestleMania X8" for the Gamecube - from last week, Chris Nowinski passes the knux to William Regal

CHRISTOPHER NOWINSKI (Harvard - 260 pounds - with William Regal) v. SPIKE DUDLEY (Dudleyville - 150 pounds)
Did Regal trade in Molly for Nowinski? That *hardly* seems like a good deal! Nowinski comes out to a fight song. We are spared another "H" sweater as Nowinski wears a dress shirt and slacks - surely he's not gonna be *wrestling* in that? Well, perhaps - Spike attacks before the bell and pulls the shirt over his head, pushes Regal out of the ring as well - did you ever go to a wrestling match and a hockey game broke out? Off the ropes - dropkick. Forearm, into the ropes is reversed and Nowinski puts Dudley through the ropes to the floor. Now the shirt's off - the pants pull apart (what would Buff say?) revealing gold trunks - and now he's out after him. Forearm in the back - whip into the STEEL steps. Dudley shoved into the ring and Nowinski is in after him. Into the ropes, scooped up - and down with a backbreaker. Leg is hooked - 1, 2, no. Pulls him up - right hand. Choke on the second rope. "Harvard sux" chant. Stands on the neck for 4. Vertical suplex - no, Spike down the back - to the ropes, Nowinski shoves him back, clotheslines him down, 1, 2, no. 1, 2, no. Snickers Cruncher replay of the clothesline - I guess when you're from Tough Enough, that's your high-impact move. Hard whip into the corner. 1, 2, no. Spike sat on top. Nowinski climbs up after him - right by Dudley, right, shoves him back, PERRO AGUAYO off the top! He's feeling it - whip is reversed, but Dudley puts a headbutt in the gut. Forearm off the ropes - forearm - gutshot - but before he can start to try for the Dudley 'dog, Regal is up on the apron - Dudley lets go and takes a swing - Regal ducks - Nowinski with a boot to the face - and a full nelson bomb, sitting out - 1, 2, 3. (3:19) Regal joins Nowinski in a doubleteam stomp session until the save is made by BUBBA RAY - NO, WAIT, THAT'S BRADSHAW, SORRY. Nowinski sprints to the back to demonstrate his cowardice.

Ric Flair is WALKING! We may find out his further plans - NEXT!

"WWE Divas Undressed" - it's a big lingerie thing and it's next Tuesday on TNN!

Oh boy, finally a new Stacker 2 ad! Oh no, it's a bunch of racecar drivers getting stretched by Al Snow, Hardcore Holly and Ivory!

TV-14-DLV - CC - Take a look at the Coliseum!

It wouldn't be an Oakland show without some RAIDERS in the front row!

Here comes RIC FLAIR (with RAW Credits & transmitido en espanol SAP) to kick off the RAW Zone. "There's a lot of people in the world that think I lost everything los- last week. First of all, the biggest superstar in my company walks out on me. Then, I lose my ownership of RAW to Vince McMahon. With the help of Brock Lesnar, I'll get to that in just a minute. Long story short, I had to go home, I had to go home fast, I had to take a long look at myself in that mirror, I had to - heh - get out or put out. And I decided that I *didn't* lose everything, I decided that I found the real Ric Flair. Yeah, I probably let ownership go to my head - yeah, I probably became a little bit of an ass(hole) - yeah, I made some bad decisions. Do I like not being an owner? No. Do I wish I still had the company? Yeah. Is life over? No. Did I go home like Austin? No. I came back tonight. Because...I took a different look at what's really goin' on, and I looked at the great Hulk Hogan. I saw him come all the way back to win the WWE title - to be in this huge match Sunday against Kurt Angle - then I looked at my legacy. My last match in RAW - a loss to Vince McMahon In This Very Ring? I don't think so. I think I said to myself, 'Ric Flair, you may have lost a half a step - but you are still TWO steps faster than just about every superstar in that locker room. And I'm not ready to go home! So I signed a contract today that says I'm gonna wrestle on RAW - that I'm gonna prove to myself that I've got at least one - more - good - run - left in me. And Brock Lesnar, let me just say this. They used to say the Nature Boy wooo was the dirtiest player in the game, and before I'LL say goodbye, Lesnar, I will prove to *you* that I'm still the dirtiest player in the game and I am the Nature Boy Ric Flair WOOOO!" Glass breaks and Austin's music plays - everybody rises to their feet...but then it stops and switches to "Latino Heat" - here comes EDDIE GUERRERO and wow, they're really moving on, aren't they? "Shhh - shhhh. Shh. Oye - listen - 'cause you know what? You just heard that music for the last time. At King of the Ring, I was set to take on Austin mano a mano, ese, one on one, man, and I was gonna kick his ass! Oh...no no no no, no, holmes - that ain't gonna happen now, man, I mean do you realise, Ric, do you realise what that match was to me, man? Huh? Do you realise what that meant to me - how hard I have worked for my opportunity for that match at King of the Ring and now it's not gonna happen? Huh? Do you realise what that means to my family and everything I stand for? And you - orale, holmes, you have the audacity, ese, you have the audacity to come out here and go 'heh - I'm the Nature Boy! Woooo! I found myself again! Woooo! I'm back! Woooo!" Naw, ese, I don't think so, holmes, I don't think so. Ese, Austin left on YOUR watch. I hold YOU personally responsible, holmes, for me not havin' the match of my life, ese. As far as I'm concerned, you're a worthless...piece...of crap." But now CHRIS BENOIT makes *his* entrance. "You wanna tell me what you're talkin' about? You wanna tell me who the hell you think you're talkin' to? Huh? This is Ric Flair - thirty years in the business. He has been in there with the best, and he has BEAT the best. Do you have any idea what THIS (holds up four fingers) means? Huh? Do you? This man has been sixteen time world champion! This man has dedicated his entire LIFE to this business!" "Orale, orale, maybe so, ese, ese, my whole FAMILY dedicated their entire life to this business - *I* dedicated my entire life to this business! Sixteen-time world champion, he paved the road, ho ho, big deal, ese. In my book, he's nothin' but a LOSER. Orale, Ric, you say you got one last run in you. Ese, well I promise you one thing, holmes - that one last run is gonna be worse than your run of... an owner." Huh? "If you're feelin' that good about yourself, how about me takin' Austin's spot - at King of the Ring? Essay? Comprende?" "Ha ha ha...orale, holmes, you're bilingual now, huh? (Something in Spanish) You think you're raza now, man? You think you're one of the homies? Naw, ese, naw, I don't think so, holmes. Ese, I promise you one thing, man - what I was gonna do to Austin at King of the Ring, I'm gonna do to YOU, ese - three times over, ese." Then he says something else in Spanish - I think it was "with beans on your mother!" "Whoa whoa whoa - easy, Eddie, easy. Hey I'm not gonna let you talk to Ric Flair like that. Go easy. This man is a hero. This man is a legend. Most importantly, this man...singlehandedly...took away MY opportunity. Took away MY dream, took away MY hope! I've been sittin' at home for one year because Stone Cold Steve Austin broke my neck. Do you have any idea what HE took from me? Huh? Like Eddie said, he left on YOUR watch. And I'm holding YOU personally responsible for ruining MY life. Do you hear what I'm saying? Do you hear what I am saying?" Flair pops Benoit - chops Guerrero - right for Benoit - but Guerrero dropkicks the knee - and now Benoit and Guerrero work a doubleteam stompdown. Guerrero has the leg - woooo! - stomps on the back of the knee - and puts on the figure four, while Benoit asks him what it feels like. Guerrero also says "holmes" a few more times. Shockingly, NO refs or officials come out to get these men separated. Benoit demands Flair tap - he won't, but does eventually pass out from the pain. Benoit adds a few stomps on the knee as Guerrero relents. Play his music! NOW the REFS are *finally* out...

Vince is on the phone (not with me - I ain't talkin' to him any more) but cuts the convo short when there's a knock at the door. "Excuse me, Mr. McMahon, I just wanted to introduce myself. Chris Nowinski, damn glad to meetcha." "Yeah, you're uh...Harvard, right?" "Yes, sir. In fact, I think I'm the only Harvard grad ever to work for the WWE." "As a matter of fact, you probably are." "Wow, you must have gone to a school like Harvard, right? Princeton, Yale, something like that?" "Actually, I'm a graduate of, uh...East Carolina." "Oh. Well, did I mention that I was captain of the football team, first team all-Ivy defensive tackle, I won the Dieter prize and the John Harvard scholarship, Phi Beat Kappa, graduated summa cum laude, got a 4.0 grade point average." "Oh really. I'm impressed, but excuse me, the phone is vibrating." "Oh, yes sir." "I have another call - no, that's all right. Hello. Tony - Tony Garea - yeah. Really. Hello - hello? Damn cel phones. Tony Garea is my lookout at the airport, and according to Tony, believe it or not, the man's on his way, he's on his way." "Who's on his way?" "I can only assume that Tony Garea meant...Stone Cold Steve Austin." Wow, they're really moving on well, aren't they?

WrestleMania X8 ad - again

DURING BREAK: Vince called in Sergeant Slaughter and the Security, and told them to give Austin access. Vince will let him say and do what he wants - to a certain point. He asks Slaughter to round up a separate camera crew so he can either get the apology down for the entire world - or to collect evidence, if not.

TRISH STRATUS (Women's champion - Toronto, Ontario) and D'LO BROWN (Chicago, Illinois - 268 pounds - with Let Us Take You Back to Heat) v. CRASH & MOLLY HOLLY (Mobile, Alabama - with Let Us Take You Back to Last Week) in a mixed tag
referee: JACK DOAN
Hey, remember when Crash & Molly were COUSINS? The commentators don't! Men start - kick by crash, whip is reversed, duck, flapjack by Brown. Scoop - and a slam. There's the standing flourish legdrop for 2. Crash heads to his corner for sanctuary - and the tag is made. So in tags Trish. Duck, elbow, elbow, elbow, whip is reversed but Trish lands a clothesline, dropkick, elbow, kick, leg is hooked for 2. Lawler is *still* busy making "fat ass" jokes - NOW going so far as to suggest to fans that Molly would sure love to hear a "she's a fatass" chant. Molly finally turns it around by grabbing the hair - hairpull takedown - rubs her face into the mat. Stomp, stomp, snap elbowdrop. Crowd instead chants "we want puppies." Backbreaker across the knee. Molly climbs to the top (complete with camera ogling her butt the entire way up) - Molly-go-round MISSES. Molly crawls to Crash for a tag - that will bring in D'Lo (why they act like Trish NEEDS to tag I don't get, if this *is* a mixed tag rules match) - D'Lo takes him down, right, into the ropes, dropkick, into the ropes is reversed, but Brown ducks - Crash walks into the - what are we calling it? I'll call it a "swingout sidewalk slam" tonight and you can correct me later - anyway, that won him the match last night on Heat, but Molly breaks it up at 2 tonight. This brings in *Trish*, who barrels her over and they both roll outside to the floor. Brown runs into two boots - Crash with a head of steam, but ran right into Sky-Hi (or, "what a powerbomb") - 1, 2, 3! (2:47) Trish is ready to climb back into the ring to celebrate, but Molly pulls her off - and into a collision with the commentary table! Brown: "Back that ass up!" The Hollys take refuge as we ogle the replay. Trish is left laying.

Watch King of the Ring at the World!

Inside is LITA. How's she feeling about Matt Hardy drawing Taker tonight? "You know, JR, even though I'm not by Matt's side tonight, he knows that I totally trust him and I really believe in him. It doesn't mean I don't worry about him, though. I mean, I know he knows what he's doing out there with The Undertaker and he's assured me of that...but, JR....sometimes it's not worth the risk." Lita gives us "hangdog."

Undertaker - is - W-- RIDING!

Neurotica's "Ride of Your Life" is the official King of the Ring theme song - check out that CD cover! They sure hope it sells - it's the first non-WWF release on SmackDown! Records!

Watch King of the Ring online - registration begins tomorrow!

Vince makes sure the camera crew is ready. "When Austin gets here, again, just document - don't get in his way, just document - (knock) - that can't be Stone Cold this soon - come in...you guys get ready!" Actually, it's Tough Enough 2's Jackie. "Oh - oh...well, you don't look like Stone Cold to me. Don't worry about these cameras. They're just here to document something." Umm, what about the one RIGHT IN FRONT OF Y'ALL - JESUS. She mumbles, but I THINK she said, "Don't worry about any of that; I'm used to it from Tough Enough." "Yes you are, and I do know you, but my question here is, Jackie, what are you doing on RAW? Last I saw, you were on SmackDown!" "Well, yes, even though I was on SmackDown! on Thursday, that doesn't mean I necessarily SIGNED with SmackDown! I was wondering if you wouldn't mind if I became a RAW girl, so to speak...know what I mean." "From the looks of things, I think you'd make a GREAT RAW girl, umm - I know you like competition so, um - I have an idea. What if, a week from tomorrow night you compete - not exactly on RAW, but a week from tomorrow night we're having a competition - it's the first-ever "Divas Undressed." It's a, uh, lingerie competition, and if you decide to compete in that, then next week right here on RAW, you can come out and give me a little preview as to how you look in your lingerie." "Well all I have to say to that is Monday night, you'll see just how RAW I can get." Wow, she can't act. Also, strangely enough, she's reminding me of Tori for some reason.

UNDERTAKER (Undisputed champion - Houston, Texas - 30 pounds - with Let Us Take You Back to SmackDown!) v. MATT HARDY (Cameron, North Carolina - 234 pounds) in a nontitle match
referee: Robinson
Matt psyches himself up and runs right into a choke - Matt shoves Robinson out of the way so he doesn't see him kick Taker in a sensitive area. Hardy right, right, right, right, right, kick, right, into the opposite corner is reversed, boot up on the charge, clothesline by Taker takes over. Stomp - climbs out with Hardy on the apron - BIG legdrop from the apron. Back in - wants the Last Ride, but Hardy punches at the apex and breaks free - ducks the clothesline - DDT's Taker! 1, 2, ah no. Right by Hardy, whip is reversed, Taker scoops him up and delivers snake eyes. Hardy ducks a clothesline, ducks a clothesline, fails to duck a clothesline - 1, 2, JEFF HARDY pulls Robinson out of the ring. Jeff right, right, right, right, knee by Taker, big boot for Matt is ducked, sitout clothesline by Matt, Jeff climbing up for the swantonbomb - nope, CAW CAW CAW is out and shoves him off the top to the barricade. Back to the ring - gutshot by Hardy, Twist of Fate attempt is pushed away - big boot by Taker. Last Ride works THIS time. Robinson's back in - 1, 2, 3. (Manhattan 2:12) Raven throws Jeff back in, and his the ring. Taker grabs Jeff by the hair - but lets him go and smiles to Raven instead. Raven produces a pair of handcuffs and cuffs Jeff to the top rope...then leaves him for Taker. Soupbone, soupbone, stomp, stomp, stomp, stomp - seeing Matt getting up, Raven puts him down with a drop toehold and holds him back with a submission hold while Taker continues to work on Jeff. You realise he didn't throw a punch ONCE during his match with Matt? He's making up for it here. Taker gives one more boot to Jeff. So is there now a relationship between Raven and Taker? And if so, what? Maybe we'll *never* find out!

Where's the RAW crew going? Well, Saturday, they'll be in Cincinatti! Sunday is King of the Ring in Columbus! Then Monday is RAW in Cleveland, Friday is DC, Saturday is MSG and Sunday is Moheegan Sun!

TERRI catches up with Undertaker backstage. "All right I'm gonna make this short and sweet - and it looks like you got the short end already taken care of. That's what happens when people try to make a name for themselves at my expense. Jeff Hardy, I think he learned a valuable lesson, I hope everybody was watchin'. In particular, I hope Triple H is watchin'. Because they say he is the best the game has to offer. Well he better bring his A game to King of the Ring, because I wanna see what he's all about - becuase this (shows belt) right here says that I'M the best. Until he has that, I guess I am. Triple H, you can beat all the monitors, and all the equipment up that he wants, but that equipment, it don't fight back - I do. And I also hurt people - not TV equipment. Anything else? I didn't think so."

Vince has helpfully turned the ringer back on his phone for our benefit. So we hear it ring! "Yeah, Tony. You're where? Good. Is Austin-- hello? Hello? All right guys, get yourselves ready. That was Tony Garea. He's on his way, he's close to the arena - I've gotta assume Austin is right behind him." Geez, the airport and the arena must be a HELL of a lot farther away than I remember...

Meanwhile, Heyman admires - a patch. "Look at that, Mr. Hebner. You are the senior official here in WWE. And I want to assure you that The Next Big Thing Brock Lesnar and I respect that. We respect your authority, sir. I also want you to know that as the agent for Brock Lesnar, I am not authorising ANYBODY to get involved in this match. I want it to be Brock Lesnar against Booker T, may the better man win. So if anybody comes down to ringside, let alone if anyone gets involved in this match, Mr. Hebner, I haven't authorised it! Which means YOU need to do your job, sir, and disqualify Booker T under those circumstances, 'cause Brock Lesnar wants NO ONE involved in his match. Okay?" "Hey - I don't tell you how to do YOUR job...don't tell me how to do mine." He walks off. Heyman turns round - and sees Booker T. "You ain't gotta worry about Brock Lesnar gettin' DQ'd. You need to worry about The Next Big Thing gettin' his punk-ass, rookie-ass whopped, and drugged, took out by the five-time WCW Champion! Now can u dig THAT." Walks away - and back. "SUCKAAAAAAAAA" Heyman makes a face.


King of the Ring ad - Hogan/Angle hyped

"Get the F out" spot

KING OF THE RING QUARTERFINAL MATCH: BROCK LESNAR (Minneapolis, Minnesota - 295 pounds - with Paul Heyman - and Snickers Cruncher presents King of the Ring!) v. BOOKER T (Houston, Texas - 253 pounds)
referee: EARL HEBNER
Bouncy, bouncy Brock. He's on the cover of WWF Magazine, proudly displayed by Lawler for the benefit of all you consumers. T barely makes it to the ring before the NWO interrupt with music and an entrance of their own. Nash and then Show take turns holding back X-Pac, but T is distracted long enough for Lesnar to strike - right, right, right, shoudler, shoulder, shoulder, shoulder. Into the ropes, T ducks - right, right, right, chop, chop, right, chop, into the ropes - no, Lesnar pulls him into a belly-to-belly suplex. Michaels and Nash take over on colour commentary. T is clotheslined out. Lesnar decides to go out after him. T manages the first punch after we stop looking at Michaels. Whip into the STEEL steps is reversed and T hits hard. Lesnar shoves him into the apron and puts him back in. Lesnar rams T's head into the buckle - shoulder, shoulder, shoulder, shoulder. And now GOLDUST is out. Right by Lesnar - into the ropes - but instead of the match, we watch Heyman giving Goldust the business on the outside - now shoving him. T whips Lesnar into the ropes, and clotheslines him. Harlem sidekick is caught - T scooped up on Lesnar's shoulder - there's a powerslam - 1, 2, no. Of course, we missed Goldust plugging Heyman. Lesnar is ready to go outside after Goldust, but T takes advantage of the turned back to land a double slap - four times. Into the ropes, Harlem sidekick DOES connect. There's a (we look at Goldust) kick. Gutshot - off the ropes - axe kick - consults the hand - and does a breakdance bit. X-Pac on the apron, T shoves him off. Show on the apron, Heyman grabs his ankle to try to prevent the interference - T over to shove HIM off - but turns back and finds himself caught in Lesnar's Move With No Good Name, the F5 - 1, 2, 3. Lesnar takes it and Michaels says "time to clean up." (3:23) NWO hits the ring - Goldust tries to shield T but Show gives him ahhhhhhhTHECHOKESLAAAAAM. Michaels does his "gay rodeo" tryout as well as his "achy breaky back" routine. 'Pac peppers T with punches - Show adds a kick to the upper thigh. Now Booker T takes ahhhhhhhTHECHOKESLAAAAAM. Play "Theme from NWO!" Let's all make Wolfpac signs! What a great way to elevate new talent!

Updated brackets again. At the pay-per-view, Lesnar will meet the winner of the Big Valbowski/Chris Jericho matchup - gee, I wonder who'll win that.

"Tony Garea just has arrived at the arena, he's in the parking lot." "All right, that means that Austin is close behind. I want you to go to the parking lot and persuade Steve to come to the ring, 'cause that's where I'm gonna be." "In the ring. All right, I'll tell 'im." "Guys, thanks." Ross: "Folks, all I can say is...by God, stay tuned." Oh, I think there's a HELL of a lot more you COULD say, Ross.

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This Saturday on "Confidential," Diamond Dallas Page tells all!

When we come back, BILLIONAIRE VINCE is in the ring, and Stone Cold Steve Austin is nowhere near Oakland, I promise you. "Let me have a beer. Let me have a beer, let me have a beer, come on, move it, let me have a beer. This beer is not for me; it's for somebody else. I'm told Stone Cold is in the building - so Austin...I'm gonna give you the opportunity to come out here, say whatever it is you wanna say to me - more importantly, say whatever it is you wanna say to the audience." Nobody shows. "Come on, Austin - don't make this audience wait any longer than they have all night." Audience chants "We want Austin." TONY GAREA hits the ring and finally breaks it to Vince. "The 'he' you kept talkin' about is *not* Stone Cold? Then who the hell is the 'he' you were talkin' about?" IF YA SMELLLLL Count the Jim Ross orgasms: "OH MY GOD! I DON'T BELIEVE IT! IT'S THE PEOPLE'S CHAMPION! THE ROCK! THE ROCK HAS COME HOME! CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS OVATION? CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS RECEPTION? THE INCOMPARABLE PEOPLE'S CHAMPION - THE ROCK! THE STAR OF SMACKDOWN! THIS IS AN UNBELIEVABLE OVATION - FOR THE PEOPLE'S CHAMPION! I DON'T BELIEVE THIS! God, this is amazing. The Rock on RAW! An emotional Rock - he feels it! But what's he doin' on RAW?" Rock hits the corners, then makes some herky-jerky motions to stoke the crowd some more. "Rock E" chant. "FINALLY the Rock has come back to Oakland! Vince McMahon what's wrong - you look a little surprised. Were you not expecting the Rock? Were you expecting Steve Austin? Did you think that Steve Austin was just gonna walk down that ramp? Is that what you thought?" "As a matter of fact--" "IT DOESN'T MATTER WHAT YOU THOUGHT! Because you see, what you're bound to realise - it was NOT Stone Cold Steve Austin that came walkin' down that ramp, no no no, it was the living full Brahma bull, jabrone eatin', pie, beatin', eatin', the Rock says, he's walking fast, whoopin' ass, People's Champ THE ROCK!" "Rock E!" "And seein' as the Rock is the People's Champ, and he came out here to address the People, and only the People, you've got fifteen seconds to get out of this ring starting now - 1..." and he uses fingers to help the crowd pick up the count. Vince hightails it, leaving his beer behind. "Oh, and before you leave - take this with you." And he hurls it at him - ah, surely THERE'S the symbolism. Vince gone, it's the Rock...and you. "Now we all know that the Rock's supposed to be on SmackDown!, we all know that the Rock wasn't supposed to return until next month - but considering what happened last week, The Rock'll be damned if he didn't come here at the very first opportunity he had and speak to each and every single one of you, LIVE. Okay, five years ago when The Rock first walked into this company, he had one idea - ONE idea and that idea was really simple, and that was just to become the absolute BEST this industry had ever seen. And I will continue to work my ass off to make sure that happens. Because you see, the Rock says this: that very same passion, that very same fire that I have in my eyes is the very same fire that I see every time I walk in the back of that locker room - every single time I walk into a RAW locker room, every single time I step into a SmackDown! locker room, all those guys are here because they *want* to be here. Everyone on SmackDown!, all those guys on SmackDown!, they are there because they want to be there, they get in this ring, they bust their ass, you love them for that, and they do it because they love to do it. So The Rock says this: if there is anybody in the back, I swear to God, I honestly mean this, if there's anybody in the back that does not wanta be with this company, if there's anyone on SmackDown! that does not wanta be with this company, then just like the slogan says, YOU get the F out! And you see, Vince McMahon, if you're really serious about movin' on, well The Rock'll do you one better. Not only does The Rock wanta move on but he wants to move up. So The Rock'll tell ya what: The Rock is scheduled to return July 11th on SmackDown! but guess what, newsflash, change of plans, this Sunday, the Rock: King of the Ring." Orgasm Ross: "OH - OH GOD THE ROCK - THE ROCK AT KING OF THE RING, KING. THIS SUNDAY, THE ROCK - BACK AT THE KING OF THE RING" "This is really simple. I've got WWE in my blood. The Rock was BORN WWE. The Rock goes back - history with the WWE. With the Rock - you know, it's really simple, like this - fifty years from now, when the Rock is eighty years old, when he's gotta put in the People's Dentures, he's gotta use the People's Walker to come WALKIN' down that ramp, just like that. The Rock will still step right in the middle of this ring and say '(old man voice) just bring it.' The Rock has WWE in his blood. From his late grandfather, my grandfater, the late High Chief Peter Maivia who started his career right here in the Bay Area...to my dad, my dad 'Soul Man' Rocky Johnson, all the way down to the Most Electrifying Man in Sports & Entertainment. The fact of the matter is this: Austin can take his ball and go home - but as far as The Rock is concerned, as far as I'm concerned...this - THIS IS HOME...IF YA SUH-MELLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL WHAT THE ROCK IS COOKIN'." "WHAT A SHOCKER - THE ROCK BACK - THE ROCK ON RAW - BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, THE ROCK WILL BE KING AT THE KING OF THE RING - WHAT A PAY-PER-VIEW NOW - THE ROCK - WHAT ROLE WILL HE PLAY? WHAT WILL HE DO THIS SUNDAY AT KING OF THE RING? Lawler: "Unbelievable - what a night this has been! We thought we were gonna get the Rattlesnake, but who cares? We got the Rock, JR!" "THE ROCK HAS SHOCKED THE WORLD AGAIN - HE HAS COME HOME AS YOU HEARD HIM SAY - PERHAPS THE MOST POIGNANT REMARKS WE'VE EVER HEARD A WWE SUPERSTAR MAKE - THE ROCK IS BACK HOME - AND LADIES AND GENTLEMEN - THE ROCK IS ON HIS WAY TO KING OF THE RING - SUNDAY ON PAY-PER-VIEW!" Raw Zone credits are up and that's the last thing you hear.

Stone Cold Steve Austin

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