|WWF Byte This! by E.C. Ostermeyer
This is the WWF "Byte This!" report for Friday, 4 May 2001, and I'm ol' E.C. himself.
On today's show: Hulk Hogan's debut, Vince McMahon gives away a Rolls Royce, and four words you never thought you'd see together: "professional wrestling," and "Regis Philbin!"
Opening credits. The Hardy Boys show why they've been banned from Home Depot.
Your hosts are Kevin "Check-Out-My-Snazzy-Red-WWF Polo Shirt" Kelly, and Dr. Tom "I-X-L" Prichard.
Their guest today is ...
The guest today was supposed to be Chyna.
The person seated in the center chair appears to be Howard Finkel. At least we assume it's the "Fink."
Either that or my astigmatism is acting up again.
Kelly says they've brought the Fink down off the roof to guest a special "open forum" edition of "Byte This!", a wide-open show with prizes galore.
Fink thanks Kelly for getting him in off the roof.
Prichard wants to know why Fink was banished to the roof in the first place.
"Well, let's put it this way," says Fink, "You're in the outdoors, it's a sort of "Big Country" setting."
Oops, looks like the "Byte This!" producer, "Big Country," just got busted on the air.
"Fans," says Kelly, "your one question for this week's show is "How do I win stuff from the Fink?"
Kelly then goes onto say that Howard Finkel has prepared WWF Wrestling trivia questions from the 70's, 80's, and 90's, and infers that the whole show is going ot be one huge "Outthink the Fink!" spot.
Fink says that trivia, especially classic wrestling trivia, will never die.
We also learn that this year is Fink's 21st Anniversary with the WWF. 2002 will mark his 25th anniversary in the business, having spent 4 years at Madison Square Garden as an usher just prior to his stint with the WWF.
Kelly says that it was great hearing Howard Finkel's voice on Raw and Smackdown. Fink says that he was just filling in for Lillian Garcia, who's recently had minor surgery on her throat. Fink said he'd had fun announcing.
First "Outthink the Fink" question is from the 70's:
"In December 1979, a rookie by the name of Hulk Hogan made his Madison Square Garden. Who was his opponent?"
Droz (Darren Drozdov) joins the team by phone for his take on this past week's happenings in the WWF.
Shane McMahon's scary spot jumping 40 ft. off the TitanTron is the first topic of discussion. Droz says that, when HE climbed up the TitanTron, he (Droz) was being chased up there, whereas Shane McMahon did it on purpose.
Prichard adds that not only Shane, but Vince McMahon has been known to take chances every bit as dangerous in the matches he has been in.
"And not only Vince," Prichard continues, "but Stephanie, too. What a boot she took from Kane at Backlash!"
"That was a much-deserved boot," says Droz, "We'll look at it that way. You can only take so much from her, and as I've said before, if she sticks her face where it doesn't belong, she's gonna get a boot square in the jaw."
Discussion shifts to the "Duchess of Queensbury", where Kelly says that a lot of people were thinking that the Duchess looked a little, umm, "suspect," a little bit familiar."
Droz says that he heard one of the announcers thought he smelled liquor on her breath, which Fink is quick to confirm. "Trust me, " says Fink, "it stunk!"
Kelly says that Jim Ross speculated that the Duchess was really from Jersey, at which comment Droz bristles, saying he's not having any "Jersey jokes" here. "There's NO WAY the Duchess could have come from New Jersey," says Droz.
"How about Duchess County, New York?" asks Fink, "Perhaps that's where it was?"
"Well, she did have big hair like somebody from Jersey," says Droz, "but that's about the extent it."
Benoit's theft of Kurt Angle's gold medals is up next, "and boy, has this got Kurt Angle truly upset and distracted," says Kelly.
Droz sympathizes with Angle's loss, but says that Benoit "was right to take off with the medals. Kurt's been so high and mighty about being an Olympic champion and showing off his medals. He took his medals off. They disappeared. Oh, well..."
"You're condoning this "Canadian" thievery?" asks Prichard.
"I don't side with Canadians, mind you, "says Droz, "but still, it's understandable that this sort of thing could occur."
Discussion shifts to the Chyna-Lita Women's Title match. "Does Lita stand any chance at all against the "Ninth Wonder of the World?" asks Kelly.
Droz thinks that Chyna has no female competition because she's on a higher level than they are. "However," he continues, "this will be Chyna's one true test, because Lita can hang with the big boys as well. And Lita won't stop until she's down for the count!"
Fink says that Chyna shouldn't be sold short either, because she's gone through her competition in record time. "She can be quick as a cat," says Fink, "but I give the edge to Lita in this match. I think she's quicker."
Kelly then compares Chyna size-wise, with the rest of the WWF Women's Division. "If you took Chyna out," he says, " You'd have a competitive division. To put Chyna in with the women does no one any good." Kelly draws a comparison with the World Tennis Association in the 1980's, when Martina Navratilova was so dominant that no one could or would compete with her. "John McEnroe said that Martina would be beaten by the 100th-ranked man in the world because men are far superior to women," says Kelly, "That was McEnroe's opinion from fifteen years ago, and I think the same parallels hold true. As dominant as Chyna is in the Women's Division, I don't think that she belongs there. She needs to have men as her opponents."
Droz agrees, but says that Chyna already has faced male opponents and emerged victorious. "But she hasn't wrestled Lita," says Droz, "and we need to see how that's going to turn out. We need more women like Lita to improve and raise the Women's Division up to Chyna's level. Improving the Division with new talent of Lita's caliber helps everybody. We just have to wait and see, now."
Caller Adrian wants to know why it took so long for the Chyna/Lita match to occur? Additionally, what are the chances of Chyna facing Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley?
Prichard says that it was due to Lita being involved in the Hardy Boys story arc, but that it was now time for her, and all the Women of the WWF to step up and show Chyna that she has some real competition in the WWF.
"Of course, Lita's a former Women's Champion in her own right," says Kelly.
Topic shifts to the Steve Austin/Undertaker story arc. Droz thinks that "Taker is out for blood in a big way," says Droz, "but the thing I'm scared of are the wild chairshots that Austin's been throwing. He's looking to hurt someone, and badly. He's always been a heel, a fact some fans aren't recognizing, but now, he's getting reckless. His match with 'Taker is going to be a knock-down, because 'Taker is looking for some serious blood!"
Prichard says that 'Taker sees the "Judgment Day" PPV as his chance to prove that he can be the WWF World Champion once again. "What better way to solidify his credibility as the World Title holder?" asks Droz.
Kelly compares this year's "Judgment Day" with last year's and remarks that the Undertaker is perched and poised to take the Title from Austin. Fink says that, as one of the senior superstars of the WWF ("senior" meaning "veteran" here), 'Taker's current Top Contender's role will add a lot of excitement to the PPV.
Caller Stephanie asks Droz if Chyna will set her sights on the WWF Intercontinental Title next, to which Droz replies that Chyna's concentrated on defending the Women title right now, but that she has held the IC Title before, and would probably like to again. "I don't know if she will set her sights on men again," says Droz, "but right now, she's got them trained on Lita."
Before Droz leaves, he shills for his "Two Cents" column over at WWFdotcom. Droz is especially pleased with the NHL New Jersey Devils back in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and facing their archrival Toronto Maple Leafs.
The first winner in "Outthink the Fink" is Eric DiAngeli from Italy, who had the correct answer, "Ted DiBiase."
"Man," said Prichard, "that was WAY before Ted became the 'Million Dollar Man!'"
The next "Outthink the Fink" question is from the 1980's.
"The WWF ran a PPV in 1985 called the "Wrestling Classic," says Fink, "What prize was given away to a home viewer during on that event? And you must be specific as to what the prize was."
"Let's see if we can get somebody from the good old USA to win this one," says Kelly.
All three dive (figuratively) into the email bag to answer some emails.
First one deals with Prichard's thoughts on the WWF's talent development promotion, Ultimate Pro Wrestling.
Kelly likes UPW, although he says that some of the talent is so-so. Prichard likes the training program; especially it's warm-up system and repetition of holds. "They get these guys in a match and take them through beginning, intermediate, and advanced levels, taking time to be sure that the rookie wrestler is not only trained, but that they understand what they are trying to accomplish out there. They don't throw them out there in front of a camera and say 'Here, be a star!'"
Kelly mentions that the "Fallen Angel," Christopher Daniels is active as a trainer in UPW. "Prototype", a wrestler from UPW is now in Louisville.
"Even better," says Prichard approvingly. "Every one of the wrestlers who start in UPW have a great attitude, and when they get shipped out, they take that great attitude with them."
We get an update on Mark Henry's career in Indianapolis. "Boy, talk about a complete change in attitude," says Kelly. "He lost over 90 pounds and looks fabulous," says Fink, "a new physical presence, and what desire, what energy! I think he's WWF-bound real soon."
Prichard says Mark Henry owes it all to Jim Cornette, and Danny Davis. "He's got that love for the business back, that reason why he became a professional wrestler in the first place," says Prichard, "I think he realized that he didn't know quite as much as he thought he did."
We have a winner in the 1980's "Outthink the Fink" contest. Ray Rickenfors, from New Jersey (go figure!) knew that the prize given away at the 1985 Wrestlemania was a Rolls Royce!
Ray gets an Austin 3:16 (red smoking skull) T-shirt, and not a Rolls Royce.
Caller Jeremiah wants to know if the "Tough Enough" series has any promising competitors who could square off against Chyna?
Kelly says that "Tough Enough" is still in production, and for Jeremiah to be patient, the show will be on MTV this summer, and maybe then we will see if there's anyone, male or female who could face Chyna. Kelly draws a comparison with Lita's career one year ago and how much it has changed since then.
Prichard says that every wrestler who aspired to become a champion much first envision themselves at that level, and then work toward it
Fink says that many of the "Byte This!" fans out there are aspiring champions. "Hard work, determination, and reaching for the stars," says Fink, "If you grab it, you are on your way."
Ray, the winner of "Outthink the Fink" calls up to tell Fink that the winner of the wrestling contest that featured the Rolls Royce as a prize was the Junkyard Dog. "Yes, " says Fink, "he beat Randy Savage and then faced Moondog Spot in the semifinal, but the match never had a referee; I don't know if the ref missed his cue or what. This didn't stop the JYD, who pinned Moondog Spot and did his own count-out. They rang the bell and he moved on!" says Fink.
"Unbe-lievable!" says Kelly.
Ray wants to know how long Fink's been an announcer with the WWF? Fink says he started in 1976, so that's 25 years. Kelly wants to know how long Ray's been a fan. "1983," says Ray, who can recall Jimmy Snuka facing Sgt. Slaughter.
"I've been to four Wrestlemanias and a lot of PPV's," says Ray.
"You going to King of the Ring?" asks Kelly.
"Naw, I'll be in Bermuda..."
"Hey, HEEYYYY..." goes the choir.
"...But I'll be at the Raw on the following Monday."
"Man, that's dedication," says Kelly, who then relates that KoTR sold out in record time.
"Outthink the Fink's" trivia question from the 1990's era is next.
"Recent history, huh?" says Prichard.
"If the WWF fans get this, I'll be surprised," says Fink, "because this question is very difficult."
"Classy Freddie Blassey was inducted into the WWF Hall of Fame in 1994. Who made the induction speech for the 'Hollywood Fashion Plate?'"
"I don't remember," says Kelly.
"Boy, THAT is a tough one!" says Prichard.
Caller Melanie on Line 3 wants to know how Fink met with Vince McMahon the first time?
"Other than Vince McMahon or Stephanie, I guess that I am the oldest employee of the WWF," says Fink proudly. "I was the first employee that he hired!"
Fink's official start date was April 1980, but his first contact with McMahon was in 1975. Fink was an usher in the New Haven (CT) Coliseum, who kept badgering his boss, Lawrence Smith to get wrestling to use the Coliseum as a TV venue, the closest TV station that carried wrestling being on Long Island. Upon finalizing the deal, Smith told McMahon that it was Fink who had the idea in the first place, and the rest is history.
Kelly wanted to know what Fink did before the WWF came along.
"I worked at a gun factory as an 'expediter'"
"Expediter?" asks Kelly.
"Yeah, it was my job to track how the employees at the factory were working, to see what progress they were making on a day-to-day basis. But my true love was entertainment and sports. So in 1972 I moonlighted at the New Haven Coliseum as an usher, and here I am."
Prichard says that Fink is a master at Rock & Roll trivia, to which Fink recalls a trip that he and Prichard took where they each tried to stump the other, and both couldn't.
Caller Jessica wants to know how Shawn Michaels is doing, and if he will be back on TV?
"That's a 'Great Unknown' at this time, Jessica," says Kelly.
Fink says that he's still with the WWF, and may be back soon, but he doesn't know when.
A dive back into The Email Pile is next, as Kelly remarks that they currently have no winners to the 'Freddie Blassey' question. "I think you've stumped 'em, Fink," says Kelly.
Emailer Thomas asks if Jerry Lynn is going to begin the resurgence in the WWF's Light Heavyweight Division?
Prichard says that Lynn has already begun revitalizing the LH Division race, and recalls Lynn's earlier work in Minnesota with Sean "X-Pac" Waltman. Prichard sees Lynn's tenure with ECW as adding to his pedigree as a wrestler, and also giving a much-needed prestige boost to the LH Title.
Thomas also wants to know if there's a possible breakup of Edge & Christian? "Have they proven everything they can as a tag team," asks Kelly, "is it time for them to move on?"
"I don't think so," says Prichard, "the friction shown between the two on Raw (30 April '01) was possibly due to Kurt Angle's looking for his medals, and may not be any more than that."
Fink says that E&C are one of the most entertaining tag teams out there, and that they are having fun reaching for the Tag Titles 7, 10, even up to 24 times. "They'll still be in the tag team race when they make their 25th run at the Titles," says Fink.
Emailer Charles asks about the so-called "glass ceiling" in the WWF, where there is a recent lack of elevation in talent to the top-card level, such as Benoit, Jericho, etc?
Kelly says that it was on last week's show that HHH himself said that there were a number of capable wrestlers who were poised to make that leap to superstardom. "HHH found that the glass ceiling, if there was one, is breaking through," says Kelly, "there seems to be some young men who are really climbing the ladder here in the WWF."
Prichard says that if there's one thing he's learned in the WWF, it's that there's a big wheel turning all the time, and your time is your time, to make the opportunity to climb up on that wheel and ride it up and make that shot work for you.
Fink says that the 'glass ceiling' is just a theory, pure speculation, and that he agrees that each wrestler has the same opportunity to achieve superstardom. "If there was a glass ceiling," says Fink, "then recent events like the Hardy Boys each winning singles Titles should disprove that. The WWF is so rich in talent right now that, man for man the WWF has the best assemblage of talent that I've ever seen in my 25 years in the WWF. The business is cyclical, and we've had some ups and downs as far as talent is concerned, but every time a new cycle begins, the bar is raised."
Fink also says that, given the depth of talent in the WWF, it easily outshines the "Golden Age" WWF talent roster of the 1980's.
Kelly thinks that the 'glass ceiling' is a lot of crying over spilt milk and misinformed observations on the part of some fans who think they know more than they really do know."
"It's like (Kelly does a 'whiny voice') 'My favorite guy doesn't get a chance to win against Stone Cold.' That's a bunch of CRAP! Take Chris Benoit, who last year had his name announced TWICE as WWF World Champion, who went 30 minutes and more with Kurt Angle and is now poised upon the precipice of greatness once again!"
Kelly is really getting into his screed here. Feel the passion!
"You take a look at somebody like the Undertaker, who a year ago was on the outside looking in as far as that "Wheel" is concerned, and who now is at the top of his game and getting ready for the Main Event at Judgment Day!"
"Anyway, that's my theory on the 'glass ceil-...!"
"We got a winner!" says Prichard.
"FINALLY!" says Kelly.
"Walter Reed, who of course doubles as a medical center when he's not answering wrestling trivia questions," says Kelly, (going a bit further afield for that reference, if you ask me.), "has called all he way from Dallas Tex-as with the correct answer to the question which is... what, Howard Finkel?"
We get Kelly, Fink and Prichard each doing their Regis impressions, with Kelly's "Psychotic Outburst Regis" the clear winner.
Walter wins a Classic Rock Muscle T-shirt. Prichard wants to know if Reed used a lifeline for the answer.
Prichard asks his own "Outthink the Fink" trivia question; what was an early '90's masked tag team called the "Jinx Brothers?"
Fink says that if he told who the Jinx Brothers were, it would destroy their mystique, "but if anybody out there calls in with the correct answer, they win Dr. Tom's APA T-shirt!"
"Hey, wait a minute..." begins Prichard.
"No, no," says Fink, "you ask the question, you gotta put something up for the payoff!"
Kelly helps out by saying that if anybody calls in with the correct answer to Prichard's question; they get something from WWF ShopZone. There's an audible sigh of relief from Prichard.
Caller Ed wants to know if Steve Blackman was ever a jobber in the WWF in the early 1980's, the answer being "Yes," but only in 1988, and then only for a cup of coffee. "He was part of a group that included Mick Foley and (Hacksaw) Jim Duggan," says Fink.
Talk turns to the legacy of some of the "under guys', like "Iron Mike" Sharpe.
"His arm still hurts, by the way, " says Kelly.
"Eighteen years later..." muses Fink.
"He should have that looked at," says Prichard.
Caller Hal wants to know what the Fink's opinion is on the whole WWF/WCW merger?
"I love it!" says Fink. "I see nothing but positives coming out of the merger and the re-launch of WCW. The talent of WCW is vibrant and fresh. They are going to give everything they possibly can because now it is time to show. They are going to have an organization behind them that knows what to do when it comes to managing an organization, and they are going to have a product that is going to be sensational to work with. Put Shane McMahon at the helm of WCW, and I see nothing but positives as long as WCW is kept as a separate brand and doesn't ride on the coattails of the WWF machine. If they can do their own thing, I really feel that they will succeed as a separate entity."
"Do you see no value in crossover?" asks Kelly.
"Not right away, " says Fink, "I'd like to see establishment on WCW's part, see them get off the ground and get that identity, that brand name. Then, at the appropriate time, you'll get that crossover."
"It has been a dream of mine," he continues, "for many years, to have inter-promotional matches."
"What about talent transfer between WCW and the WWF?" asks Kelly. "Won't you need some of the WWF star power to help shoulder the load for the new WCW?"
Prichard says he doesn't see it happening. "Like Fink, I see WCW establishing their own identity first."
"In time," says Fink, "once WCW does re-launch, it would be cool to have a WWF established star, or somebody we haven't seen in a while to go to WCW and rub elbows with them."
"Like the Jinx Brothers?" says Kelly, "Speaking of which, we have a winner in Alberto, who's on the line!"
"Matt and Jeff Hardy," says Alberto.
"Yes, that's correct," says Fink, "and a job well done."
Prichard starts hollering as Fink tries to pull the APA shirt off his bod.
"We got something on the way to Alberto from ShopZone," says Kelly, as Fink backs off.
"Thank God!" says Prichard, who's busy pulling his shirt back on.
Fink relates tales of Matt and Jeff driving from Cameron, NC to house shows in Kansas just to get noticed, to show people that they were hungry.
Prichard repeats the "These (Hardy) Boys-are-crazy!" story he told three weeks go on "Byte This!"
"In the old days it was tough to get new talent noticed," says Kelly, " but now, with the talent development system and teams in place, the future of this company depends on "feeding the machine" with young, vibrant talent from UPW, Louisville, Memphis, and now Puerto Rico (IWA) are going great guns."
Kelly then runs the current talent in IWA, including Chaz, D'Lo, Tiger Ali Singh, and Pete Gas."
Fink says that, with the new developmental program in place, the new talent is getting moved around, which can only help the young stars get seasoning, and get used to other wrestlers that are out there. The more seasoning and experience that they can garner before they come to the WWF, the better their chances for success.
Prichard says that the program will develop a network of guys who knew each other before they make their debut in the WWF. "This way," says Prichard, "they're not standing there like an outcast among all these stars when they get here. They'll meet friends from the programs that they haven't seen in three or more years, and it will make the transition to the big time that much smoother."
Caller Dick on Line 6 wants to know what's going to happen to the big WCW stars like Goldberg, Booker T, and will we ever see them in the new WCW?
Kelly asks Dick if his employer offered him a full year's salary and he didn't have to leave his sofa, where's the motivation to work?
"There isn't any," says Dick.
Kelly then asks Prichard what he would do.
"Do I get the same salary I do now?" asks Prichard.
"Yeah," says Kelly.
"Naw, I'd still come in," says Prichard.
"How about for $200 a week?" asks Kelly.
"Man, now that's tempting..." says Prichard.
Meanwhile, Fink is losing it in the background.
Line 2 has Danny who wants to know if HHH is using Stephanie McMahon for his own nefarious gains?
Kelly says that they both enjoy each other's company, and really enjoy where they are right now. Kelly then shills the HHH/SMH hour-long interview with Michael Cole and Tazz on Sunday Night Heat (aired 5/6/01).
Line 2 has Bob who sounds stoned out of his mind, drops the phone, and "disappears off the radar." Much hilarity ensues among the participants.
Over to Line 5 where David from Danbury, CT wants to know if the WWF will ever be in Danbury at the Icenter? Kelly says David should get over to Hartford for the show, and that He'll send Fink over with the car to pick him up. Fink says that the Danbury "Icenter" is a prime target for a WCW event.
(It ought to be. Heyman's ECW used to sell that place out on a regular basis, way back when!)
Caller Chris from Tampa FL who wants to know if Mick Foley will ever get back in the ring again?
Kelly Prichard and Fink all agree the answer is "No!"
"Not as a competitor," says Kelly, "although he will always have a ring presence to work with, being the former WWF Commissioner, and his special relationship with CEO Linda McMahon."
(That stack of signed contracts she gave him, I'm guessing...)
Quick plug for Foley's new book, "Foley is Good", in bookstores May 8th.
Line 4 has Eric who wants to know what the status of Rob Van Dam.
Fink says that RVD's a talented performer, and a good fit with the WWF if everything goes as planned.
Kelly also sees RVD as a good fit for the new WCW.
Prichard thinks that RVD will fit anywhere, as long as he wants to continue his career.
The last caller is John from Lynchburg, VA, who sounds as stoned as Bob did earlier. John wants to know if there's any chance Ric Flair will be in the WWF or new WCW?
Kelly reiterates the whole guaranteed contract spiel he had earlier in the show with David. "Ric can have a very entertaining role outside the ring," says Kelly, "but he's one of those guys with a guaranteed deal from Time Warner, who's getting money whether he works or not. He's possibly in that group of guys who will have to negotiate a buy-out of his contract with Time Warner before signing with the WWF."
Fink says that Ric Flair is a premier star wrestling, whoever he works for.
"Tom, you've done some pushups and squats with Ric Flair?" asks Kelly
"Man, I've thrown UP by the pool with Ric Flair!" retorts Prichard.
Kelly and Fink start giggling like somebody left the valve on the nitrous tank open.
"Love him or hate him," continues Prichard, "Ric Flair has always been the kind of guy that has been a leader one way or another."
As Kelly closes the show, Prichard asks if they can have Fink on every week?
"Don't get crazy, now, Dr.Tom," cautions Kelly, "our budget can only handle so much!"
"Besides," says Fink, looking pointedly off-stage at "Byte This!" producer "Big Country", "I know somebody who wants to go back up on the roof real soon..."
Kelly closes the show with a Lugz I-X-L shoe commercial.
See you next week.
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