|WWF Byte This! by E.C. Ostermeyer||
This is the WWF Byte This! Report for Friday, 25 May 2001, and I'm your reporter, ol' E.C. himself.
On today's show, Kevin Kelly has a movement, Droz waxes jubilant over the past week's WWF action, Tazz spends a quiet afternoon with his family, Chris Benoit gets a well-deserved breather, and Dr. Tom Prichard is nowhere to be found.
My guess is that the folks at Betty Ford finally freed up a bed.
Still photo of Stone Cold Steve Austin standing over some poor soul, reacting to what appears to be The Undertaker, who's asking Stone Cold if he's seen 'Taker's push lying around anywhere...
Your hosts are Jonathan Coachman and the Aloha Shirt-clad producer of "Byte This!", ol' "Big Country" himself!
(Plug: "Big Country's" Aloha Shirt may or may not have come from the fine folks at "Paradise on a Hanger," (http://www.hotshirts.com). Check 'em out.)
BC remarks to Coach about "what a different outlook this week's show already has."
We are informed that Kevin Kelly is moving into his new house this weekend, and apparently is doing the move himself. Dr. Tom is nowhere to be found, though after last week's less than stellar performance, Prichard may be getting some well-deserved, ummm, "personal time."
The show opens with Coach and BC ecstatic about having Chris Benoit as this week's special guest on Byte This! Coach says that Benoit had the single best week in his career, having wrestled in seven falls within 72 hours, and adds that Benoit doesn't do any cardio work at the gym, on account of how fast he does his weight training workout.
This segues nicely to the latest update on HHH's injury; he tore his left quadriceps muscle during the Raw Main Event. HHH had surgery this past Thursday in Birmingham, AL under the very skillful knife of Dr. James Andrews ("Only the best for the 'Game'," says Coach), and is expected to be out of action for six months.
BC says that the quadriceps is the biggest muscle in the body, and that HHH's "just plain ripped!"
"HHH will be missed," says Coach, "but, at the same time, there's a lot of guys ready to step up."
BC and Coach discuss the "Glass Ceiling", and basically pooh-pooh the whole concept. "It's time for those with the talent to step up and take their shot," says Coach.
I myself am puzzled over the fact that, if the company line is that there's no glass ceiling, and HHH hadn't been injured, would Chris Jericho, and Benoit (especially Benoit,) be getting their push to the top at this time?
Droz joins the show at this point, and is fulsome in his praise of Chris Benoit's performance this week. "Two matches on the PPV, one of them a "2 out of 3 falls" match," says Droz, " and then. The big tag match on Raw the next night. And finally, the 4-Way TLC match on Smackdown; that's a busy three days of HARD work for Mr. Benoit!"
(Note: Smackdown is taped on Tuesday, for re-broadcast Thursday.)
Droz comments on how the Tag match on Raw ran over, and Coach says that TNN knew it was an important match, knew it would run long, and wisely gave them the extra coverage time.
"That match with HHH and Austin elevated Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit to Main Event status," says BC.
Droz goes on to say that, with the Rock on suspension (read "making a movie,") and HHH hurt, there are a lot of guys stepping up and making their run at the top-card. "They are showing that the top card is where they belong,' says Droz.
Coach agrees, and says that, with HHH hurt, this is a time for all the talent in the WWF to raise their level of their game.
Droz says that he was watching Raw Monday night, and knew almost immediately that HHH had hurt himself. "That injury...he fought through it, and it was unbelievable that he made it all the way through, " says Droz. "I mean, he got put in a Lion Tamer (read "Walls of Jericho") after he'd already had his quad torn...it's an unbelievable performance on his part, and he did it because he's a professional, and he knew that's what he had to do. He got the job done... So that's what he did, and the pain of that rupture must have been unbearable. It's gonna be a tough time. Being down when you are an athlete means you always have to shoot towards the goal of coming back..."
Something that Droz knows from personal experience only too well.
Coach says, like him or hate him, you've got to respect HHH for his performance on Monday night. "He could have thrown in the towel and got the match stopped, but instead he continued on another four minutes, even climbing on top of the announce table to do the "Walls of Jericho" spot. He was in such tremendous pain that, after the show, HHH had to be carried to the back, he couldn't leave under his own power.
"I don't think people realize just how difficult what he did was," says Coach, " but, as Droz alluded earlier, HHH is a professional. Sports entertainment is HHH's whole life; he lives, he breathes, it's all he thinks about. And though he may be out of the ring, HHH will still have a big presence backstage."
Droz concurs, saying that HHH will be getting his rehab in, and that he will still be helping the younger guys out, and helping the older guys out. "He will be there in people's ears," says Droz, "telling them when they are doing things right, or when they're doing things wrong... That's what he brings to the table, both in and out of the ring."
Talk shifts to the Kurt Angle Medal Ceremony on Raw, which got interrupted by Shane McMahon.
"Lo and behold, Shane-O comes out and says 'Ehh-Ehh!' to Kurt Angle..." says Coach.
"You gotta love Shane-O for doing that," says Droz.
"Yeah, well, it got Kurt Angle mad," says Coach. "So mad that last night on Smackdown, I was having a conversation backstage with a buddy of mine. So there I am, minding my own business, and Kurt interrupts my conversation very rudely, asking me 'Where was Shane? Had I seen Shane?' Then he threatens me with being an American and lying to America...Kurt Angle wants Shane McMahon, and isn't going to stop until he gets Shane McMahon."
Droz agrees, saying that as for Kurt's Medals Ceremony, "It was FIVE YEARS AGO, KURT! Get over it! Enough already! Get your ass in the ring. Just wrestle and do your promos. And don't worry, your medals will be taken care of. They're safe in Benoit's crotch..."(lots of suppressed giggling off camera), " and no amount of cleaning...I mean, it's Five Years Ago, Kurt! C'mon, time to grow up!"
The Kurt Angle angle (sorry, couldn't resist) segues nicely into the Spike Dudley/Molly Holly romance story arc, and Kurt sticking his big bazoo therein.
Coach likes Spike's Moxie in standing up to Kurt Angle.
Droz agrees, and gets a plug in for his WWF.com column, which just happens to have an article on Spike Dudley this week.
"He 150 lbs. with all his gear on," says Droz. "AND 10 lb. weights strapped to him," (there's that suppressed, off-camera giggling again), "and nearly all of that weight is heart. I remember back in ECW, Spike used to get thrown ten rows back into the crowd. You can't stop this kid. He will keep coming at you, and coming at you, Kurt's got to worry about that now. Kurt may have put a beating on him, but now, Kurt's gotta be looking over his shoulder, because Spike is not going to give up. He (Kurt) WAS rude to Molly, and Spike said that's his girl friend. Kurt does have something to worry about."
Discussion shifts to The Big Show winning the Hardcore Title from Rhyno. "It was an impressive performance by Show coming off the PPV the previous night," says Droz, "and though Rhyno may have beaten him up there at the first, Show proved he could be ferocious. He's trimmed down a lot, too. I was on him for a while about his weight, but now he looks great. He could go back to wearing his biker shorts, ditch the singlet, and show his body again. Show's shaped up, and it's gonna be some time before anybody takes the Hardcore Title from him."
BC says that it would be hard to take anything from The Big Show. "The Hardcore Title...or dinner...!" says BC, which gets a laugh from everybody.
Coach moves on to the awesome TLC-3 match on Smackdown, last night. "Lots of the fans have said that this was THE premier match in Smackdown history."
Droz agrees, but says that, from the competitors' viewpoint, putting a match like that on a televised show, without the extra compensation that goes with a PPV show is not something that's normally done these days, especially for the performance they put on "For a TV show," says Droz, "I was amazed at what they went through and what they did, it's great for the fans to see, but the wear and tear on the guys is a little too much in my eyes, but it was still unbelievable!"
Coach points out that everybody came away healthy.
Droz leaves, which gives Coach and BC a chance to promo Grand Masta Sexay and Steve Blackman foray into broadcast excellence, when they host Sunday Night Heat this week. Coach makes a comment about Blackman's skit with Trish Stratus, and GMS's reaction to what was Going On Behind That Screen. BC says that, contrary to popular belief, Blackman is really a lady's man This naturally brings up Trish, ummm, "Doing the Worm," which let's THAT unfortunate double entendre loose in the building, and great is the hilarity among the assembled multitude.
Coach tries to get things back on track by taking a call, and gets Cory from Kansas City who misses Coach from when he was on the local news station earlier in his career, then asks Coach if what the WWF is doing is in response to the slump in the ratings? Coach, to his credit, responds with candor by saying that, yes, the WWF was aware that things were getting stale, (and boy, wouldn't having to attend THAT meeting with Vince be something to be
avoided at all costs, especially so soon after the XFL fiasco?) However, says Coach, the events of the past week have shown that the WWF knows the problem is there, and is starting to turn things around.
Mercifully, Tazz arrives in the nick of time with this week's "Tales >From The Hook!" But not before Coach and BC get in a couple of digs about Tazz stopping off at Carvel for a double scooper. Tazz responds that he's getting tired of the Byte This! hosts getting themselves over at his expense. "Just for the record," says Tazz, "the ice cream was for my kid and not me," which gets the horselaugh.
This week's Tales From The Hook" is all about TLC-3 at Smackdown. "(The match was) just as good as I thought it was gonna be," says Tazz, "and the fans should realize how lucky they are to get something like that for free. Four of the best tag teams in wrestling, the future of wrestling and sports entertainment in one ring, and... and this is a shoot from me, guys... all of them putting their lives and bodies on the line for the fans. Anytime you go out and do a match, you run the risk of getting hurt. But when you do a gimmick match like TLC-3, which went beyond "gimmick," and with that level of intensity, you are putting your body, your career, and your family's future on the line. And those guys all did that. For free!"
Coach asks Tazz about Chris Benoit, and how he's handling the big push he's getting. Tazz says that Benoit has been busting his ass for fifteen years to get to this moment in his career, to be the top guy, in the top federation. "Last night, he proved that he was at that level," says Tazz, "and not just Benoit, but Jericho as well! In terms of training and nutrition, Benoit is the most disciplined, dedicated, and professional wrestler I've ever seen in pro wrestling, and he deserves to be where he is."
Coach confirms this by relating that Edie Guerrero, who trains with Benoit, says no matter how Benoit feels, whether he's tired, or hurt, or maybe not feeling like he wants to go to the gym, he's always on his regimen, and that Guerrero's never seen that kind of dedication in a wrestler before.
Coach dovetails the Benoit story with the HHH injury story, and asks Tazz what HHH's injury will do to the WWF over the next six months.
Tazz says that both the Rock and HHH being off the WWF roster will hurt the promotion, make no mistake. "Not to blow smoke up the butt of the WWF's creative team, " says Tazz, "but they've proven they can come up with compelling new story lines to counter the absence of Rock and HHH. The Rock will be back, and Hunter, well, what happened to him was a shame. He IS the Game, because he is really phenomenal, both in the ring and out. He's in the Top 3 talent-wise in the business, and for this stupid little injury to happen to him, I feel so bad for him; it's such a shame. But he WILL be back. As far as the WWF is concerned, I don't think it's a crushing blow. It may hurt a little for the short run, but they'll start elevating guys to fill the slots. And for these two guys to be Tag team champions, well, they've got the following, they're over enough, and they're young and hungry enough to be the top guys."
Big Country asks Tazz about (Yoshihiro) Tajiri's debut on Smackdown. Tazz responds that he hadn't thought Tajiri's initial appearance would be doing a vignette with William Regal. "I didn't know that Tajiri had that independent a side to him," says Tazz, "He was hilarious! At least I assume he was meant to be funny, and that they market him in such a way that once he gets into the ring, the fun ends. Tajiri's an extremely serious competitor. Some say he may be undersized. I say that's a crock. The heel rub he's getting from Steve (William) Regal is phenomenal! That's good chemistry at work there, and I like it!"
Tazz leaves, as we get the "Pulp Fiction" treatment for the finale of the Raw Main Event from this past Monday. Announcers Jim Ross and Paul Heyman do a tremendous job keeping the viewers at home whipped into a frenzy by pegging the top of the excitement meter.
Yikes, now that I know what to look for, HHH's injury is by-God horrifying!
Coach and BC welcome Chris Benoit to Byte This! Benoit thanks them for having him on the show, and responds to the first question that, yes, this was the biggest week of his career so far. Coach asked how he was feeling, to which Benoit responded that "I've been feeling my matches all week!"
Coach asks how he's handling the big push the WWF was giving him. Benoit replies that it's very satisfying, but that you always have to be ready, because you never know when the push might come.
Topic shifts to Benoit's thoughts on HHH's finish to the Raw Main Event on last Monday night, in spite of the injury. Benoit says that, more than anything, it showed HHH's pride in his profession, and his desire to give the fans a great Main Event. "The whole locker room looks up to HHH."
We go to the phones, where Janie on Line Six wants to know if Benoit has changed at all since coming to the WWF from WCW? Benoit says the WWF enabled him to find the passion for the business that he lost at WCW.
Coach says that it seems that, after coming to the WWF from WCW with Perry Saturn, Dean Malenko, and Eddie Guerrero, and then splitting off to team up with Chris Jericho, that this new team seems to have a lot of potential. Benoit agrees, saying Jericho is a true phenomenon and that there is great chemistry between them.
Caller Todd on Line Five is very concerned about whether Benoit has ever gotten a concussion from doing the Benoit Flying Headbutt. Benoit says he has, on a number of occasions, suffered a concussion. "It's one of the stiffest jolts you can imagine," he says, "especially on top of getting backdropped and suplexed and whatever during the match. When you line up that headbutt, your whole body jolts!"
(Here's a thought. Don't do it anymore, Chris. Okay?)
Coach says that the jolt must be even worse when you aim for a table outside the ring, and your opponent Matt Hardy dodges out of the way, referring ot the horrific bump Benoit took in the opening moments of TLC-3. "Those kind of matches are extremely dangerous. You look for an opportunity like what Matt Hardy presented me with, and you try to take advantage of it. But there's always the chance that it could go wrong, and at that point there's nothing left but to go through the table. I about knocked myself out with that one."
Line Four has Brad, who wants to know why Benoit had decided to team up with Chris Jericho, after they had been enemies for so long? Benoit says that it wasn't an outright decision, but rather fate that brought them together, plus the fact that they had common enemies.
Our first dive into the Email Bag finds Justin wanting to know what Benoit, (and indeed every wrestler involved) had to do to get ready for TLC-3, especially after having gotten the match on such short notice? Benoit says that yes, TLC-3 was booked on very short notice, and that there is as much mental as physical preparation for a match as dangerous as a TLC match is. "Anything can go wrong;" says Benoit, "you could be climbing up a ladder, only to have the ladder tipped over, and you don't know where you're going to land! As for preparing for the match itself, Jericho and I sat down and talked it through, deciding that if we could get through the match, do whatever was necessary to keep the Titles, and remain healthy, then we'd be very lucky. Anyone is lucky if they walk out of a TLC match and remain un-injured."
Coach wants to know what it was like to win the WWF Tag Titles, to which Benoit replied that, despite his having won other Titles from other federations in other countries, it was very satisfying to win these particular Titles from, "arguably, the top two guys in the industry!"
Line One has Mitch from Vancouver, who wants to know, first, if Benoit can trust Chris Jericho, especially after TLC-3? "Yes," says Benoit, "I've known Jericho for quite a few years now, most of them against him, but we've come to a mutual understanding of our common goals that's working out just fine. I respect his professionalism as I respect his ability, and he feels the same way about me."
Matt also wants to know Benoit's thoughts on HHH and Steve Austin. "Totally incredible," says Benoit; "they are the best in the business, without a doubt. When you're in the ring with two of the top talents in wrestling, and have that kind of a match, with that level of intensity, and to walk out, hands raised, that says a lot!"
Coach ties this into a discussion of Benoit's just-ended feud with Kurt Angle. Benoit says that Kurt Angle always raises the level of the game with his skill and his professionalism. "And not only for himself," says Benoit, "but for everyone who gets into the ring with him, Kurt Angle brings to the ring a wealth of talent and experience. It is remarkable that he's able to perform as he does, with that level of intensity, and, at the same time, back in the locker room, to be laid back and very easy to get along with in terms of doing business. It is very unusual nowadays."
Line Two has Ken, who wants to know, if the opportunity presented itself, would he stab Jericho in the back to get a guaranteed shot at the World Title? Benoit answers no, that he's worked too hard and long developing his rapport with Jericho to jeopardize it just for a Title shot.
(Huh? This IS the WWF, isn't it?)
Line Four has Danny, who wants to know what Benoit does when he's not wrestling. Benoit replies that, after a long stretch on the road, wrestling, training and working out, he tries to relax, stay at home, rest, and heal up.
Big Country shills for the new WWF magazine issue (that hasn't yet hit the newsstands), that features Benoit's pic on the cover. Much ooh-ing and aah-ing.
Another dive into the Email Bag has Michael from Edmonton saying that Benoit's going to get a big reception in Edmonton for the Smackdown tapings on Tuesday night. Benoit is pleased at the email's enthusiasm, saying that he was looking forward to it, as he'd wrestled in Edmonton and Calgary when he was with Stu Hart's Stampede Wrestling promotion.
The next email from Matt, wants to know what was more nerve-wracking, jumping off the top of the steel cage to give Jeff Jarrett a headbutt, with Jimmy Snuka diving from the other side, or was it the TLC-3 spot where you dove from the top rope onto the table? Benoit says it's hard to gauge, since every time is different when you do a high-risk move.
Coach says that, what with the July PPV, ("Invasion") being followed by SummerSlam in August, this may be the best summer in Chris Benoit's career. Benoit says that he certainly hopes so, that the locker room is extremely competitive, especially given the current level of talent. "Three months ago," he says, "no one would have ever expected Chris Benoit and Chris Jericho to be the WWF Tag team Champions. Who knows what the next three months will hold? With a talent roster this deep, anything can happen."
Caller John on Line One wants to know what Benoit was planning as his next step beyond winning the Tag titles with Chris Jericho? Benoit wants to remain as Tag Title co-holder with Jericho "for a nice long time,' in order to add some luster and notoriety to the belts. "We want to make them mean something," says Benoit.
Yet another plunge into the Email Bag comes up with an interesting question from Bill, who wants to know about Benoit's short-lived tenure as WCW's World Champion, along with WCW's stripping him of said Title, subsequent to his arrival in the WWF. Benoit says that, as great as it was being the WCW World Champion, it didn't bother him that he had it taken from him when he made the move to the WWF. "I had made up my mind," says Benoit, "that what I wanted more than anything else was to end up in the WWF. After I signed my deal, I wasn't worried too much about losing the WCW World Title. I had lost my passion for the business over there. It had become a chore to come to work, because that's what I was thinking of it as, just 'work!' I don't get that in the WWF now, no matter which day of the week I show up on. I got my passion back!"
Coach wanted to know what the change was like moving from being a top-card star in WCW to the WWF, with its deep talent pool, only to have the WWF buy WCW fifteen months later. "I don't think anyone saw that coming," say Benoit, "Maybe I'd still be there today. Who knows? As I said, at the time I left WCW, there was no looking back."
Coach wants to know what positive things Benoit can foresee for WCW under Shane McMahon's leadership? Benoit sees an "extreme amount of potential" in WCW, with a lot of young talent that needs to be developed and guided. "Their efforts will give the fans two different products to watch and choose from."
Caller Angus on Line Five asks if Benoit had ever worked with the great Atsushi Onita while he was over in Japan, and what his favorite extreme promotion was. Benoit laughed, saying that, after TLC-3, the WWF was extreme enough for him. As for Onita, no, he'd never worked with him. Angus then said that if you wanted flaming tables, you had to go somewhere, to which Benoit replied that flaming tables weren't necessary for good, professional wrestling.
Kyle on Line Five (again) wants to know why Benoit made the move from WCW to the WWF? Benoit says that WCW was being run by people who really did not have any idea of how to run a wrestling promotion. "It finally boiled down to getting fed up with the politics, the back-stabbing, the giving everything every week with maximum effort, and get nothing in return," says Benoit. "WCW's got a great chance to start over, and be run by people who have a passion for the business like I do. People like Shane McMahon, who care about the business and the fans."
The last caller, Greg on Line Two, says that Benoit reminds him of one of his favorite wrestlers, the Dynamite Kid. Benoit, flattered, thanks Greg for the comparison. Greg then offers belated congratulations for the great match between Benoit and Bret Hart memorializing Owen Hart. Benoit, touched, thanks Greg for his sentiments.
Greg then spoils the moment by asking if there's a chance that Benoit's wife, Nancy, (aka "Woman") will be returning to the ring anytime soon?
"Nope, " says Benoit, with a laugh, "she's enjoying being a mother too much, and won't be back."
Coach says that every time they get down to Atlanta, Benoit's son seems to have grown another foot. "He's growing like a weed," says Benoit with a snicker.
Coach thanks Benoit for taking time on a Friday (and his day off, to boot) to join us on Byte This! Benoit says he's enjoyed himself, and that, again, he wants to thank all the fans for their support. "Winning those Tag Titles in Monday was a rush," says Benoit, " and that rush is what makes up for all the bumps, and hurts, and hotels, and life on the road away from our families. Winning the Tag Titles last Monday night was what it's all for!"
Benoit signs off, as coach and Big Country shill for next week's show, which should be a good one, since the "Man of a Thousand Faces," Kurt Angle, will be the scheduled guest. Coach plugs the new WWF "King of The Ring" website, and gets in a final blurb on Steve Blackman and Grand Master Sexy hosting Sunday Night Heat.
Kevin and Dr. Tom should be back next week.
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