Justin Shapiro



What the g'ay -- screwed out of syndicated Friends on TBS and Fox??? Some Christmas this is.

Baruch ata, Adonai Eloheinu, melech haolam, asher kideshanu bemitsvo tov, vetsivanu lehadlik neir shel Channukah. (Hello and I am Jewish. [Except I also celebrate Christmas, because my dad decided that it was a fun holiday. Like Halloween.])

I always thought that the one story where the important internet writer's computer dies to death was just something they made up when they were too bored to write something. But then whoa and behold, last week, my Hewlett Cackard craptop just stops working while I'm writing seven pages about Paradise Lost. (Did you read How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents? I had to wear a belt whenever I read that one because it just charmed the pants off of me.) So now Extended Computer Warranty is sending me a box or should I say coffin in which to mail them the computer. I hate to see my computer wrestle, but I'd love to see her box. Anyway, who cares, the fact of the matter, jabroni, if you smell what the Rock is cooking, is this: I said, "CRZ, I won't let you down, bro. I got this. No broken computer will stop me from filing a report," except, and this is the disappointing part, it did stop me, thereby breaking my iron man streak at let me see here ... eight weeks? Solid. At least it was a slow week for the news that I was brought in to report. It's not like anybody died or anything.

Hoss Russ Haas died in his sleep on December 11, 2001. Russ and his brother Charlie were developmental wrestlers for the WWF down there in Bret Hartland. Haas, 27, suffered a heart attack on September 24, but had been cleared to start training again and was expected to resume wrestling in January. If you're one of those, you'll say, "a heart attack at 27 sounds a lot to me like steroids," and if you're one of those others you'll say, "I extend my deepest, darkest sympathies to everybody," but I am in no position to do either, because, well, seriously. Jim Ross mentioned the passing in passing on Raw. Not really in passing at all; they specifically mentioned it and whatnot. You saw. Help me, J.R. "Russ Haas was one of our shining lights at Heartland Wrestling, and he was an even better human being. Our deepest sympathies go out to the Haas family. Russ will truly be missed by all who knew him." Dos Haas were reportedly close to being brought up from developmental. Charlie will keep on keeping on in HWA.

WWFE aired RAW is RAW this week and last. I thought both shows were "there," as the saying goes. Last week was just, I dunno, flat. Stereo figure-fours were cool. This week's had a good main event, but the rest of the show was weak (and obviously I wasn't expecting anything unweak, so no harm no foul). I liked the concept of the skits at first, but, oh my, they were on the lame side. Might as well just chill for the next couple weeks because nothing is going to happen until the big Madison Square Garden Raw on January 7, a beautiful day. Hey, how about Stephanie crying on Raw? Talk about the worst news I heard all day. That's really bad. I pray to Santa Claus that Stephanie McMahon is not going to come back with Hunter as a babyface because if she does I will LITERALLY DIE. Just strap the heart attack machine across my shoulders, and then the kerosene is brought down from the castles by insurance men who go check to see that nobody is escaping from Christmas ho ho ho. Oh don't you dare make her a face. If she has to be on TV it's gotta be to turn on HHH and go with Jericho or Angle, right? Right?? Oh no. According to Dave on the LAW as reported to me by Matt, that 1/7/01 Raw will put the wheels in motion for the old how you say split company two promotions divided rosters deal, which I guess will come as a result of the spoiler Ric Fl_ir vs. Vince McM_hon m_tch _t the Roy_l Rumble spoiler.

Meltzer, whose book Tributes I received from Santa Claus, is saying Awesome Chris Jericho who is Awesome's program with Rob Van Dam could end up being the PPV title match, which would allow them to load the Rumble up with a lot of starpower. In the best case scenario that would elevate both Jericho and Van Dam to top status but in the worst case devalues the title. Fans are not taking to Jericho as the world champion, which makes sense considering how beaten and beaten and beaten he was before winning the title. They're, like, trying to make him a vulnerable champ, obviously, but so far he's come across like something of a fluke champ. :-/

In r8ings news, Steve Austin's skit in the supermarket with Booker T. on Smackdown was funny. And was a big ratings-killer -- 3.6 for the show. Whoops. 12/17/01 Raw last week did a 4.0, its second lowest rating of the year and second lowest in that timeslot in three years (excluding holidays). That's down from 4.7 on 12/10. They'll get a bump on January 7, with the Hunter hype -- long build-up, much longer than Rock got for his comeback! Triple H isn't going to get the 5.7 or 5.8 that Rock got, but there will be an increase, especially with no more Monday Night Football.*

Andrew McANUS's WWA group announced that they plan on doing a PPV from Las Vegas on February 24, 2002, headlined by who knows what, maybe Road Dogg vs. Jeff Jarrett vs. the immobile Scott Steiner. The world does need one more person, me, to say that WCW and ECW could not draw on PPV last year, and that was with television. The world does need one more person, me, to say that WCW could not draw on PPV last year with more star power than WWA's roster full of the guys that the WWF doesn't want. Dave M. (to maintain his anonymity) said it is expected that WWA will offer Nash a deal for roughly the same amount of money that he was negotiating over with the WWF, with the reduced working schedule and limited number of dates for which he yearns. As for Scott Hall, beats me. Might as well take him, for Rob Davitt's benefit.

Chris Connelly conducted an interview with Hulk Hogan on ESPN last Thursday. It was silly stuff. Hogan said all the right things about Vince, Hunter, Rock, Austin, WWF, etc. He mentioned pressing the 700-pound Andre the Giant over his head in front of 93,000 at WrestleMania III -- for fun, count the number of factual errors in that statement. I count three.

Answers: 1) Andre weighed more than 700 pounds. 2) The actual attendance at WrestleMania III was something closer to 94,000. 3) Hogan and Andre didn't fight at WrestleMania III.

During a radio interview, Larry Zbysco called out Vince McMahon and claimed that Chris Jericho is exploiting Larry's name value by calling himself a living legend. Triple H is set to return on 1/7/01 as The Game (of Human Chess). Credit ... Hobbes.

Two weeks ago, it was reported in this very ring that "On New Year's Eve, the World Wrestling Federation will be airing a special three-hour episode of RAW entitled "Best of the WWF 2001 - Viewers' Choice." The show will feature the top ten matches of the year as voted on by Federation fans." Hmm. There's an assload of great matches this year so I think this calls for an awesome COUNTDOWN~ of MATCHES~ starting next week~." And I held an awesome countdown of matches the following week, as promised, by making a list and then watching them. Next week, I'll probably actually write about the list here, and fill out the Wrestling Observer Newsletter year-end awards ballot too. (Best Box Office Draw? Here's a little hint -- his name ends with "ustin." Yes, that's right, I voted for myself.) In the meantime, maybe you'd like to see some of my roommate Mike's picks:

Wrestler of the Year: 1) Keiji Mutoh 2) Steve Austin 3) Yuji Nagata

Most Outstanding Worker: 1) Chris Benoit 2) Yuji Nagata 3) Minoru Tanaka

Feud of the Year: 1) Rock vs. Jericho 2) Austin vs. Angle 3) Benoit vs. Angle

Tag Team of the Year: 1) Benoit/Jericho 2) Kojima/Tenzan 3) Mutoh/Kea

Best on Interviews: 1) Steve Austin 2) Rock 3) Paul Heyman

Match of the Year: 1) Benoit/Jericho vs. Austin/Helmsley, San Jose, 5-21-01, 2) Kobashi vs. Akiyama, Tokyo, 12-23-00 3) Benoit vs. Jericho, New Orleans, 1-21-01

Shootfighter of the Year: Vanderlei Silva

Schyeah, whatever, Mike.

* Speaking of football, Sunday at the Steelers game (p.s. OMG the Steelers), 5 minutes in, the fan seated behind me uh oh, HE'S GONNA PUUUUUUUUUUUUKE, and wham all over the back of my jacket. He got the chunks all up in there. The guy ran away to the bathroom and I made a "mortified" face and took off my jacket and sweatshirt. It SMELLED. So I'm seething, Jerry, seething, and I want to rip off his head and kill his head and wail away on his body, ohhh yeah, so when he comes back in the 4th quarter, he doesn't even know he threw up all over me, and he stumbles back into the aisle, and I bring the ruckus and stand up, and I'm all "DUDE!" And he's like "[is a tard]?" And I didn't know how to properly express what I was feeling, so I said the first thing that occured to me, which was, "DID YOU KNOOOOOW? DID YOU KNOW that when Shane and Stephanie sold their stock to that consortium ... that the consortium ... WHOO ... that the CONSORTIUM ... WAS ... ME! WHOO! And that means that you and me ... are LIMOUSINE RIDING! JET FLYING! KISS STEALING! WHEELIN DEALIN! SONS OF GUNS! And you wanna know WHY? Because we're PARTNERS!" And everyone left is staring at me (on account of I'm awesome), and the drunk is befaggled, and I said "Dude, you puked all over me" but by then other people had pointed him out to Jericho Personal Security as the guy who puked all over everything in the first quarter and he was ejected.

And that, my friends, is why Ric Flair is the best wrestler ever. That and all those good matches he had.

Justin Shapiro
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